CBI raids Jet Airways office, founder's home over alleged bank fraud

The CBI is probing Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and others for allegedly defrauding Canara Bank of Rs 538 crore.

NRI businessperson Naresh Goyal was founder and chairman of Jet Airways (photo: IANS)
NRI businessperson Naresh Goyal was founder and chairman of Jet Airways (photo: IANS)

Aditya Anand

As part of an investigation into an alleged bank fraud case involving Canara Bank, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the former Jet Airways offices and the home of the company's founder, Naresh Goyal.

The bank was reportedly defrauded of Rs 538 crore by Naresh Goyal and others, according to a charge filed by the CBI.

According to the CBI, searches were conducted at about seven different locations in Delhi and Mumbai, including the offices of Jet Airways, Goyal, and a few former employees of the airline.

Due to a severe cash shortage and growing debt, Jet Airways, once India's largest private carrier, discontinued operations in April 2019. After a protracted insolvency procedure, a consortium led by Jalan–Kalrock acquired the airline in June 2021.

The CEO-designate of the grounded airline, Sanjiv Kapoor, has stepped down and stepped out of the organisation. According to the Jalan–Kalrock Consortium (JKC), which is getting ready to buy out the airlines, Kapoor will depart the company on Monday. It further stated that until a replacement is found, the executive committee will manage the CEO's duties.

In the early half of 2022, Jet Airways had plans to begin operations again.

Kapoor's resignation came at a time when the airline is already struggling to manage legal disputes over unpaid wages to its former employees.

Even three years after receiving financiers' clearance for its renovation, Jet's new promoters are yet to own it due to these problems.

"The longer-than-expected time being taken for the [transfer of ownership] may result in some difficult but necessary near-term decisions to manage our cashflows to secure the future while the airline is still not in our possession," a JKC representative was previously quoted by Quartz as saying.

Even though the problem of the airline's ownership transfer continues, JKC will later this month reach the 180-day deadline set by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to pay off all Jet's creditors and workers.

In addition to the approximately Rs 250 crore in payments due to the airline's former employees by May 14, JKC must pay Rs 185 crore to the lenders of the grounded airline.

According to a NCLT judgement dated January 13, 2023, JKC has satisfied all prerequisite requirements outlined in the resolution plan, clearing the way for the lenders' ownership of the airline to be transferred to the successful bidder.

The lenders—who have resisted giving JKC control of the airline—appeared before the NCLT again in March, only to leave disappointed when the tribunal declined to provide any sort of temporary respite for them.

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