Mumbai, September 2, 2023 – In a major development, Naresh Goyal Jet Airways founder, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday night in connection with a staggering Rs 538-crore money laundering case related to Canara Bank. Goyal, 74, was taken into custody after a lengthy interrogation at the ED office in Mumbai. He is set to appear before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Saturday, where the ED is expected to seek his custodial remand.
The case has its origins in an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in May of the same year. Canara Bank had alleged that Jet Airways, under Goyal’s leadership, had manipulated funds, leading to a loss of Rs 538.62 crore for the bank.
According to the FIR, Canara Bank had extended significant loans and credit limits totalling Rs 848.86 crore to Jet Airways (India) Ltd (JIL), of which Rs 538.62 crore remained unpaid. The CBI’s investigation declared the account as ‘fraudulent’ in July 2021. It was further alleged that a forensic audit of JIL uncovered misappropriation of funds, with Rs 1,410.41 crore being disbursed to various companies under the guise of commission expenses.
Additionally, the bank accused JIL of financing personal expenses, including salaries, phone bills, and vehicle expenses for members of the Goyal family. The audit also revealed that JetLite (India) Limited (JLL), a subsidiary of JIL, had received advances and funds diversion through investments.
Naresh Goyal’s legal troubles do not end here. He and his wife, Anita Goyal, were apprehended by immigration officials at the Mumbai airport in May 2019 while attempting to leave the country, shortly after Jet Airways ceased operations. The ED later discovered violations of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) norms concerning the sale of stakes to foreign airline Etihad. Subsequent searches were conducted at his residences and offices in Mumbai and Delhi in September 2019, leading to multiple ED interrogations in 2020.
Jet Airways, once a prominent player in the Indian aviation industry, grounded its operations in April 2019 due to financial difficulties and an inability to secure funds for continued services. In a bid to revive the airline, the Jalan Kalrak consortium acquired it through an auction conducted by banks. However, Jet Airways has not yet resumed flights under the consortium’s leadership.
The arrest of Naresh Goyal marks a significant turn of events in this high-profile case, which has sent shockwaves through the aviation and business sectors in India. As the legal proceedings unfold, the future of Jet Airways and the implications for its stakeholders remain uncertain.