Mumbai: Tata Trusts, one of India’s oldest philanthropic organisations, has denied the involvement of R. Venkataramanan, its managing trustee and a non-executive director on the board of beleaguered airline AirAsia India Ltd, in the bribery investigation initiated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on 29 May, according to a statement released by the trust on Thursday.
The trustees, at a meeting on Thursday, “categorically reiterated that the reported investigations have nothing whatsoever to do with the affairs of any of the Tata Trusts", the statement added.
Venkataramanan was charged by the CBI, along with AirAsia promoter Tony Fernandes and others, with bribing unnamed government officials to obtain a flying permit for the airline and beginning international flights from the first day of operations in June 2014, thereby circumventing the rule mandating that airlines must have five years of operational experience and a fleet of at least 20 aircraft to fly overseas.
The airline is a joint venture between AirAsia Berhad and Tata Sons Ltd, which is a 49% shareholder in AirAsia India.
Tata Trusts controls about two-thirds of Tata Sons Ltd, the holding company of the Tata group.
Tata Trusts said its premises were not raided by investigating agencies but that Venkataramanan’s office was visited by the authorities, with clarifications sought on some papers relating to AirAsia India, not Tata Trusts, as media reports suggested.
The trustees “reaffirmed their complete trust and continued support" to Venkataramanan, the statement added.