Former AirAsia India CEO Mittu Chandilya has approached a civil court in Bengaluru against the low-cost airline and audit firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu for tarnishing his image and has sought compensation of Rs 28 crore ($4 million).
The move comes after AirAsia India said on 31 October that there was a probe against some former executives involving ‘irregular personal claims’ and that a forensic investigation by Deloitte had revealed financial irregularities during Chandilya’s tenure. Chandilya has sought unconditional apology from the airline as well as from the audit firm.
The development was first reported by The Times of India. The report also said the Bengaluru court on 19 November passed an interim order restraining AirAsia India and Deloitte from coming out with allegations against Chandilya.
Email queries and text messages to Chandilya and Deloitte did not elicit any response. AirAsia India declined to comment.
The whole thing came to light after a letter from ousted Tata Sons Ltd chairman Cyrus Mistry went public. Mistry had cited the Deloitte report that alleged that Chandilya instructed payments to certain Singapore-based entities where no services were rendered. According to Deloitte, HNR Trading and Link Media Immigration were paid Rs 12 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively, even when they didn’t provide any service to AirAsia India.
Chandilya had led AirAsia India since inception in June 2013 and was replaced by Amar Abrol from April this year.
The airline is a joint venture between Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes-led AirAsia Bhd and the Tata Group. AirAsia India was formed in February 2013 with the Tata group owning a 30% stake, the Malaysian carrier controlling 49% and businessman Arun Bhatia-controlled Telestra Tradeplace holding the rest.
Tata Sons increased its stake to 41.06% in August last year when Telestra opted not to subscribe to a rights issue of shares. In March this year, the holding company of the Tata group raised its stake in AirAsia India to 49% by acquiring Telestra’s stake.
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