Mistry refutes charges over AirAsia India woes

Mumbai: Former Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry on Thursday denied “malicious and defamatory allegations” levelled against him over AirAsia India woes.

“It is well documented that R. Venkataraman was intimately involved in the affairs of AirAsia India right from its inception. He has had many roles including that of Executive Assistant to Ratan Tata at the time of the formation of the Company, Tata Sons’ nominee on the Board, as well as that of a shareholder with a 1.5 per cent stake in the company,” Mistry said in a statement.

“Therefore, his weak excuse that he was only a non-executive director without any responsibility is totally without any merit.”

Mistry said: “This ridiculous attempt to question the independence of the CBI and to cloak his alleged misadventures by using my name is treated with the contempt it deserves.”

“Needless to state, I deny all the malicious and defamatory allegations against me.”

Mistry’s statement comes a day after AirAsia India’s Director Venkataramanan in a statement said: “It is commonly known that the present accusations against AirAsia India find their root in baseless allegations made by Cyrus P. Mistry and the Shapoor Pallonji Group against Tata Trusts Trustees (me included) and Tata Sons in his ‘revenge’ legal actions.”

Venkataramanan, who has been accused among other things of violating FDI norms in giving effective management to a foreign entity through FIPB clearance in 2013, has denied the charges.

The CBI on Monday filed an FIR against Venkataramanan, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Deputy CEO T. Kanagalingam alias Bo Lingam, the then Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), and also some “unknown public servants” of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

The CBI on Tuesday said it had received information that AirAsia India was indirectly controlled and operated by the AirAsia Group and particularly AirAsia Berhad, violating the norms of the then FIPB.

This structure was directly formalized through a “Brand Licence Agreement” signed by AirAsia, represented by Fernandes, and AirAsia Berhad, represented by Bo Lingam, on April 17, 2013 which indirectly made AirAsia India a de facto subsidiary rather than a joint venture.

As per the then FDI policy, foreign airlines were allowed to own up to 49 per cent of shares in domestic airlines but effective management control must remain with the Indian partner.