Tata Sons, Ratan Tata Linked to AirAsia Fraud in Shapoorji Pallonji Group Petition

The interim chairman of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata. Credit: Reuters

The interim chairman of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata. Credit: Reuters

In a legal petition filed by two investment companies of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group – Cyrus Investments and Sterling Investment Corp – Tata Sons and Ratan Tata have been directly linked to the fraudulent transactions worth Rs 22 crore that were allegedly carried out in AirAsia India – the joint venture airline of the conglomerate, the Economic Times reported.

The petition also alleges that as part of the transactions, the conglomerate – at the behest of Tata – had dealings with the alleged terrorist Hamid Reza Malakotipour.

A Deloitte report based on a forensic investigation on the airline that linked its ex-CEO Mittu Chandilya’s close aide Rajendra Dubey to the alleged terrorist has been cited in support of both the allegations in the petition.

According to Economic Times, the report alleged that Chandilya had instructed company payments worth Rs 22 crore to a Singapore-based firm, but no services were rendered, and to an Indian firm, which, according to government records, does not exist.

Tata Sons and Malaysian carrier AirAsia Berhad each own 49% of the shares in the airline. The remaining 2% is owned by chairman Ramadorai and director R. Venkataramanan.

The Economic Times quoted the petitioners as saying that, “Hence, acting upon the instructions of respondent two [Ratan Tata], the Tata Group in its dealings with AirAsia have indirectly been financers of terrorism and respondent two [Tata], by his acts, has caused irreparable harm to the age-old image of the Tata Group in addition to breaching the trust of not only the shareholders of the Tata Group, but also its employees.”

A Tata Sons spokesperson responding to the petition told the Economic Times that the allegations “are completely baseless, and each one of them will be responded to and proved incorrect.”

“AirAsia India has already put it in the public domain, as early as October 31, that there is an ongoing investigation against certain former personnel of AirAsia India involving irregular personal expense claims as well as certain company charges,” the spokesperson added. “It has subsequently said that it has filed a private complaint with the Bangalore police against certain allegedly erring officials.”

A statement issued by Tata Sons on Thursday claims that the National Company Law Tribunal did not grant any interim reliefs in the petition and has instead asked Tata Sons to file replies and rejoinders in January 2017.

On Tuesday, Cyrus Mistry, a day after he announced his resignation from all listed Tata Group Companies, had filed a petition with National Company Law Tribunal against Tata Sons.

In his complaint, according to Reuters, Mistry had alleged mismanagement and corporate governance failures within the company.

(With PTI inputs)

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