Qantas CEO defends employees held in Vietnamese probe

Singapore
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Two Jetstar Pacific executives who were stopped from leaving Vietnam due to an investigation into the airline's fuel hedging losses were not involved in any criminal activity, says Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce.

The airline's COO Daniela Marsilli and CFO Tristan Freeman were acting on directions from the board and there were "no criminal or legal irregularities", says Joyce.

"Airlines around the world have been involved in fuel hedging. It is not unique We're absolutely convinced that the people acted under the delegation of the board," he adds.

Vietnamese authorities are investigating Jetstar Pacific's fuel hedging losses that totalled around $31 million in 2008 and 2009.

Qantas owns 27% of the low-cost airline, which is based in Ho Chi Minh City.

Marsilli and Freeman were leaving Vietnam to return to Australia before Christmas when authorities told them they would not be allowed to leave, says Joyce. "They have not been detained. They are still free to travel around the country and they still have their passports," he adds.

Vietnamese authorities have detained Jetstar Pacific's former CEO Luong Hoai Nam as part of the investigation, says Joyce. Luong resigned last November due to personal reasons.

Qantas is working with "the highest levels" of the Australian Government to resolve the situation, says Joyce.

"We don't have any indication of how long this will take," he adds.

However, the incident will not affect the airline group's confidence in doing business in Vietnam, he says.

"We believe the business up there is a very good business We've seen major changes to the business over the last two years. The business is going in the right direction," he adds.