AFTER A high-level review, the government has decided it is not yet time to give Jet Airways's Naresh Goyal the security clearance he so desperately needs to start the airline's US operations. Reason: investigations are still on.
The Enforcement Directorate was probing possible foreign-exchange violations by Goyal, sources said. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Committee of Secretaries chaired by cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi on August 25.
The US department of transportation has asked India for this clearance before Jet Airways can be allowed to start flying to that country. The airline wants to commence Mumbai-Newark flights from next summer; earlier, the launch date was June 23, 2006.
The US request came in the light of the Jet owner's alleged underworld and terror connections. Goyal has rubbished the allegations.
The unfinished investigation refers to alleged foreign exchange violations by Goyal in obtaining $14.4 million from the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank of the UAE.
Initially, the company affairs department believed Jet had pledged its own shares to obtain this money. But it was later told (by the intelligence agencies) that, in fact, the money was advanced against shares of a Gulf-based company Tailworld, owned by Gulf Air (Bahrain) and Kuwait Airways (Kuwait).
That Jet got so much money against shares of another company raised eyebrows — the matter is being investigated now, as is the background of Tailworld Limited. Sources said the Ministry of External Affairs had asked the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain for help. Goyal is reported to have taken the position that since he is an NRI he cannot be investigated or tried for forex violations by India.