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Founder of India's Jet Airways arrested on bank fraud charges

Naresh Goyal, the founder and former chairman of Jet Airways, was in custody Saturday following his arrest in connection to a bank fraud case involving the now-defunct airline. File Photo by Money Sharma/EPA-EFE
Naresh Goyal, the founder and former chairman of Jet Airways, was in custody Saturday following his arrest in connection to a bank fraud case involving the now-defunct airline. File Photo by Money Sharma/EPA-EFE

Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Businessman Naresh Goya, founder of defunct Indian airline Jet Airways, is in custody Saturday following his arrest by authorities in connection with a bank fraud case in Mumbai.

Investigators with India's Enforcement Directorate took Goyal into custody after accusing him of laundering around $65 million (5.38 billion rupees).

Prosecutors said they will push for the 74-year-old to remain in custody.

He and his wife Anita Naresh Goyal are accused of failing to repay millions in loans extended to the airline. It wasn't immediately clear if Anita Goyal had been detained or charged, although her name is listed on the complaint filed by Canara Bank of Bangalore, India.

Officials allege the couple secured more than $102.6 million (8.488 billion rupees) in loans and credit over several years while operating the airline, which ceased operations in 2019. More than $65 million remains outstanding.

Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal is accused of laundering around $65 million over the years. The airline ceased operations in 2019. Photo courtesy of Jet Airways
Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal is accused of laundering around $65 million over the years. The airline ceased operations in 2019. Photo courtesy of Jet Airways

Investigators believe the couple siphoned the money into personal accounts. They also accused of using the money to pay for personal expenses like phone bills and vehicle purchases.

Officials attempted to question Goyal in July but were not able to locate him.

Goyal, who was charged under the country's Prevention of Money Laundering Act, founded Jet Airways in 1992 and the airline began operations a year later.

At its peak, the carrier had a fleet of four Boeing 737 aircraft for short-to-medium-haul flights and three Boeing 777 jets for longer operations.

The company at one point was India's largest private carrier but could not sustain mounting debt.

Forensic audits uncovered the financial discrepancies.

Amid insolvency hearings, the company was sold to a conglomerate of private investors in 2021 with the intention of relaunching the following year. However, the company has yet to restart operations.