Naresh Goyal, founder of the now-grounded Jet Airways, is not cooperating in the investigation in a case of alleged fraud of ₹18,000 crore, the Centre claimed in the Delhi High Court on Friday.
The government's submission came during the hearing of Goyal's plea for withdrawing his earlier petition which sought permission to travel abroad.
Goyal, in his fresh application, said the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has started its probe into the case of alleged fraud of Rs 18,000 crore and he was extending full cooperation to the agency in the investigation and accordingly, was and not pressing for the permission to go abroad at this stage.
To this, central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul said: "He (Goyal) is not cooperating in the investigation of the case." However, Justice Navin Chawla did not express anything on merits of the case and said the petition is "dismissed as withdrawn".
The hearing took place amidst the news that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches at the premises of Goyal in connection with a case of alleged contravention of the foreign exchange law.
ED officials said the searches are being carried out under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and are aimed at gathering additional evidence.
Premises in Mumbai and Delhi are being searched, they said.
Besides seeking permission to travel outside India, Goyal had also challenged in the court a look out circular (LOC) issued against him on the ground that as on May 25, when he was off-loaded from a flight to Dubai, no ECIR/FIR was registered against him.
Goyal said he came to know of the LOC on May 25 when he and his wife Anita were off-loaded from a flight to Dubai with an onward connection to London.
He said when he had filed the petition in July, he was in an urgent need to travel abroad and thereafter, he received summons from SFIO for recording of statement regarding the investigation which has been initiated.
"The petitioner (Goyal) is participating and fully cooperating in the investigation and has appeared before the authorities on three occasions.
"As the investigation has commenced and since the petitioner is extending full cooperation, he is not pressing the present writ petition at this stage for permission to travel outside India," it said, adding that he be given liberty to avail of the appropriate remedies in future.
Earlier, when Goyal had moved court seeking permission to go aborad, the judge had observed that if he wanted to go abroad, he should first deposit Rs 18,000 crore as as guarantee that his company owes to lenders.
Denying him permission to fly aborad, the court had sought the Centre's reply to his plea.
The court was informed by the Centre that it was a serious fraud involving Rs 18,000 crore and the investigation was being carried out by the SFIO.
Goyal has sought quashing of the LOC as well as several office memorandums which lay down the guidelines for issuing the travel ban.
According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the LOC was issued after the ministry found in an inspection large-scale irregularities in Jet Airways, which shut its operations in April due to acute cash crunch.
The ministry subsequently ordered a probe by the SFIO into the affairs of Jet Airways.
Naresh and Anita Goyal had resigned from the board of Jet Airways, which the former founded 26 years ago, in March following a debt restructuring plan. He had also resigned as the airline's chairman. Jet Airways is facing insolvency proceedings.