A forensic audit conducted by Deloitte India has found that an aide of former AirAsia chief Mittu Chandilya (above right) was paid by the company to arrange meetings with chief ministers and politicians, Hindustan Times reported on Saturday. The report comes days after former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry raised the issue of fraudulent transactions at the airline in a letter written to the group’s board following his removal.
The audit reportedly shows that the aide, Rajendra Dubey, helped Chandilya in conducting “liaison activities for Air Asia India Limited since August 2013 and in setting up meetings” with political leaders across the country. The audit notes that although a Singapore-based firm where Dubey is a director was paid Rs 12.28 crore for “government/regulatory framework” services, there is no evidence of any “actual service provided”.
Further payments worth Rs 10 crore were made to an entity called Link Media Immigration Services Private Limited for providing media-related services, according to The Economic Times. However, no such company was found to be registered with India’s ministry of corporate affairs and visits to three addresses listed by the company “revealed no business establishment”, according to the audit, which added that the payments were made on Chandilya’s direction. Dubey later called the audit’s findings “baseless information”.
The forensic audit of AirAsia India – a joint venture between the Tatas and Malaysia’s AirAsia Berhad – was commissioned by the chairman of the Tata group’s audit committee after Mistry requested one. The audit’s findings were submitted to Mistry only a fortnight before he was removed as chairman by the group.
In his letter to the board of Tata Sons, Mistry said that forensic investigations of AirAsia’s accounts had revealed the fraudulent transactions. He had further said that the expenses involved non-existent entities in India and Singapore. The central government has said that it is monitoring the developments in the matter.
Mistry also accused the board of “wrongful dismissal” and said that the conglomerate faced $18 billion (Rs 1.15 lakh crore) in write downs or reduction in value of assets. On October 24, the board decided to push Mistry out after a massive fallout, with Tata’s shares falling and the company anticipating legal action by the former executive. Ratan Tata has taken over Mistry’s post temporarily, the company said.