YES Bank and Indian aircraft lessor Vman Aviation Services IFSC Private Ltd have filed a complaint against FlyBig with the Economic Offences Wing, Gurgaon, for bank fraud and forgery of over ₹8 crore. FlyBig, however, has denied the allegations.

The issue revolves around the alleged fraudulent activities related to an escrow account established by FlyBig and Vman, as part of a lease agreement.

According to multiple sources, last month, Vman Aviation filed a complaint against Big Charter Private Limited (under which FlyBig operates) and its directors and key managerial persons. Employees of YES Bank Ltd were also mentioned in the complaint.

Vman Aviation, the lessor of two ATR aircraft to FlyBig, accused the latter of engaging in forgery and deceit. The lease agreement mandated the creation of an escrow account for receiving government funding under the UDAN scheme. The central accusation is that FlyBig allegedly facilitated an unauthorised transfer of over ₹8 crore, by forgery of documents, including authorisation letters and signatures, leading to the unauthorised transfer of a substantial amount from the escrow account.

“FlyBig allegedly informed Vman that it had not received Viability Gap Funding (VGF) from the Ministry of Civil Aviation for allocated UDAN scheme routes. Since VGF had not been received even after a considerable time, and multiple correspondence with FlyBig, Vman enquired with YES Bank and found out that the VGF had already been paid by the government into the escrow account, and had been subsequently transferred by FlyBig to its account,” said an official. 

Vman has sought the freezing of the escrow account maintained by both Vman and FlyBig. It has also sought criminal breach of trust, cheating by personation, cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, forgery, making a false document, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using as genuine a forged document or electronic record, and other relevant provisions of the IPC and other applicable Indian laws.

“We do not wish to comment at this stage as matter is under investigation,” a Vman spokesperson said in response to businessline’s query. 

YES Bank too has filed a complaint against FlyBig in response to the allegations. YES Bank did not respond to the query. Bank officials said that since the matter was sub judice, they couldn’t offer more information. However, they confirmed the complaint.

The EOW is investigating the matter and yet to file an FIR in the matter.

‘One-side of story’

FlyBig has refuted the allegations and accusations leveled by Vman Aviation Services IFSC Private Limited as  “bogus, baseless, fabricated and a deliberate attempt to harass, intimidate and threaten the newly launched airline, trying to establish itself in this close-knitted, yet competitive Indian aviation industry”. 

In a response to businessline, the company claimed, certain “vital facts” have been concealed from the media in order to malign or tarnish the image of Big Charter Private Limited, recognised as an airline with integrity, by manipulating, twisting, churning and moulding the facts as per its own whims and fancies. 

Flybig said Vman was presenting only one-side of the story “showcasing (the latter’s) victimisation”. It said, Vman’s “asserted dominance” and behaviour is ineffective and all in vain as “it is not flybig’s sole lessor.” 

“We are in the process of entering into subsequent contractual obligations and agreements with other Lessors/ Companies/ Entities qua purchase of ATRs and Airbus and are capable enough to restart and resume our operations in the sky,” a company official said requesting anonymity. 

The regional carrier further said, it will “bring to the table the entire gamut of aviation experience opening new world of possibilities for each and every citizen of India ….at a reasonable fare price.