A Jet Airways India Ltd. aircraft passes over traffic as it prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Jet Airways Says Not Aware of Any Inquiry by Indian Government

(Bloomberg) -- Jet Airways India Ltd., the carrier that deferred earnings this month pending endorsement of its books by auditors, said it’s unaware of any probe initiated by government authorities after a report said the company is under scrutiny for alleged embezzlement of funds.

The Registrar of Companies, which is under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, has started an initial inquiry into potential wrongdoings such as diversion of cash, and will also look at the role of auditors, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified citing government rules. The examination is only preliminary, and it may turn into a formal probe upon any evidence, one of them said.

Jet Airways “has not received any communication from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in this regard,” it said in a statement to the stock exchange Tuesday.

Shares of the carrier fell as much as 3.9 percent in Mumbai on Tuesday after Moneycontrol.com first reported the development. The stock has plunged 65 percent this year, compared with a 9 percent drop for rival IndiGo, the low-cost airline operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., and a 12 percent gain for the benchmark Sensex index.

The examination of its accounts by authorities is the latest trouble to hit the Mumbai-based airline, which is seeking funds to meet liquidity requirements after cash on hand dwindled to $46 million, the lowest since at least 2008. The company has reported losses in all of the last 11 financial years but two, and needs to repay about $447 million in debt coming due through March 31.

The carrier, part-owned by Etihad Airways PJSC, deferred its earnings originally scheduled for Aug. 9 by more than two weeks, saying the company’s management and auditors needed more time to finalize its accounts. It will now announce its results on Aug. 27.

Lenders want Jet Airways to raise money by selling shares before they could commit to any additional loans, people familiar with the matter said last week. Blackstone Group LP is in talks to buy a stake in Jet Air’s loyalty program, Bloomberg News reported last week, while Mint reported Monday that TPG Capital LP is considering an investment in the airline.

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