Former Tata Group CEO Cyrus P Mistry has hit out at key Tata Group member, R Venkataramanan, the managing trustee of Tata Trusts, for "the shameful case" filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“It is therefore deeply disturbing that a few individuals with alleged questionable motives are today bringing disrepute to the Tata brand. It is well documented that Mr. R Venkataramanan was intimately involved in the affairs of AirAsia India right from its inception. He has had many roles including that of Executive Assistant to Mr. Ratan Tata at the time of the formation of the Company, Tata Sons’ nominee on the Board, as well as that of a shareholder with a 1.5% stake in the company. Therefore, his weak excuse that he was only a non-executive director without any responsibility is totally without any merit,” Mistry said in a statement.

He noted that the board of Tata Sons and the Tata Trusts should introspect over the “decline in governance standards at AirAsia India”. “The Board of Tata Sons and the Tata trustees need to concern themselves over the decline in governance standards at AirAsia India that this shameful case reveals. The Group and its employees deserve better. The actions or lack thereof that the Board of Tata Sons and the Tata trustees may take, will define their commitment to upholding the value system enshrined by the Group’s founders,” he said.

Venkataramanan had earlier said that the allegations made by the CBI had its roots in the its roots in the "baseless allegations made by Mr. Cyrus P Mistry and the Shapoor Pallonji Group against Tata Trusts trustees (me included) and Tata Sons in his revenge legal actions".

Criticising the statement, Mistry said, “This ridiculous attempt to question the independence of the CBI and to cloak his alleged misadventures by using my name is treated with the contempt it deserves. His alleged actions, which are today under investigation, raise grave public concerns over his credibility and ability to be the custodian of India’s largest public charitable trust.”

It should be noted that Mistry, in a document submitted to the the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), had alleged that AirAsia India had gross governance failures. He had said in the documents that the former general counsel of Tata Group, Bharat Vasani, had repeatedly warned the airline’s board members of the issues in  governance in running the airline. “The group’s legal counsel had stated in his email that he is being forced to continue on the board of the company and no steps are being taken by management to rectify the issues. He notes that the ongoing legal and regulatory infractions are exposing our directors of the company to criminal liability and will inflict reputational damage to our group,” the document said.

The CBI, in its FIR, has alleged that Venkataramanan had lobbied with unknown officials from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, to get necessary approvals and amend or scrap the 5/20 aviation rule. The CBI has booked Venkataramanan, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Deputy Group CEO B O Lingam and others for allegedly flouting norms to launch its services in India.

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