ED waiting for lenders' complaint to act against Jet, founder Naresh Goyal

A separate investigation against Jet is ongoing under the Foreign Exchange Management Act
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is waiting for an official complaint by lenders to Jet Airways against the cash-strapped airline and its former promoter Naresh Goyal, before initiating action against them under anti-money laundering laws.

“There are pieces of information regarding unexplained fund trails and siphoning off of funds, but all that requires a formal complaint for investigation under the provision of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA),” said an ED official.

Citing the restriction under PMLA, he explained that there should be a predicate offence registered by any other agency or the police. Only if the offence is investigated by another agency under schedule offences can the ED take action.

The PMLA has schedules containing 157 Sections that have links to 29 other Acts. These are called schedule or predicate offences. People in the know said the ED may soon ask lenders to file a formal complaint. An email sent to Jet Airways remained unanswered.

The Naresh Goyal-controlled airline owes over Rs 8,500 crore to the State Bank of India (SBI)-led consortium. Trouble mounted for the airline when its pending dues swelled up to Rs 3,500 crore last year. Since then, it has been facing liquidity issues, due to which it has struggled to keep itself afloat and pay its employees.

The Registrar of Companies, under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), has flagged off certain discrepancies in the books and instances of violation of the Companies Act. The findings may soon be referred to the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to probe the matter further.

Meanwhile, a separate investigation against Jet is ongoing under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) for alleged violation of foreign exchange regulations during the signing of a $150-million (over Rs 900-crore) deal with its strategic partner Etihad Airways in 2014 for a loyalty programme business.

In 2014, Etihad had picked up a 50.1 per cent stake in Jet’s frequent flyer programme, Jet Privilege, with the balance going to Jet.

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