PHOTO: AirAsia.

LONDON – The probe into AirAsia’s money laundering case has been widened, with the Enforcement Directorate collecting details and documentation from the Commerce and Industry Ministry related to the Foreign Direct Investment clearances given to the carrier.

The documents were retrieved from a body of the Commerce and Industry Ministry (DIPP), which relates to foreign direct investment from other countries.

The files collected are related to operations that AirAsia wanted to start in India.

From these files, the investigators will look into the policy that existed that gave AirAsia the circumstances to gain approval to fly in India.

International License Investigation

Investigators believe that AirAsia may have tried to manipulate government policies through fraudulent means to get the international licenses for its AirAsia India Limited company.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act in Malaysia was pressed by investigators to determine whether tainted funds were used to create the illegal assets in India.

They said that the money trail would be followed, pursued and if necessary, prosecuted.

On top of this, the investigator’s offices in Mumbai are examining a separate case against the airline and their executives under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Fernandes Investigated

Executives Tony Fernandes, Bo Lingam, and R. Venkataramanan are those being investigated on the probes. The licenses of AirAsia India Pvt Ltd and AirAsia Berhad are also under scrutiny.

The case, noted under 120-B of the IPC, which in Malaysia is determined as a Criminal Conspiracy, alleges that Venkataramanan was lobbying in government non-transparently to gain clearance in India.

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Furthermore, the 5/20 rule, which states that the company needs to have five years of experience in business and a fleet of 20 aircraft before gaining approval into other markets, is being investigated.

The company is yet to gain such international permits as they currently only have 18 aircraft. AirAsia has consistently denied any wrongdoing during the approval process.