Bo Lingam has been appointed AirAsia Group’s acting chief executive, after founders Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun stepped down temporarily to facilitate an independent probe into Airbus bribery allegations.
Lingam is currently the group’s president for airlines and will serve in the acting role for two months “or such other period that the company may deem fit,” says AirAsia Group in a Bursa Malaysia disclosure.
Prior to that, Fernandes and Meranun announced on 3 February that they would step down from their roles as group chief executive and group chairman, also for two months.
Airbus is being investigated for allegations of corruption over securing orders, and UK court documents list five counts of failing to prevent bribery, including one of activity linked to AirAsia.
Court documents released after the UK Serious Fraud Office probe into Airbus detail allegations that two AirAsia executives – both “key decision makers” at AirAsia and long-haul operation AirAsia X – were “rewarded”, through a sports sponsorship, in respect of an order for 180 aircraft.
The two executives were not identified in the court documents, and there is no indication that either Fernandes or Meranun is among the individuals referenced.
The airline has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and both Fernandes and Meranun have strongly reiterated this denial.
Both men said in a 4 February statement: “At the request of the board of AirAsia, we have agreed to continue to assist AirAsia in an advisory capacity as and when required.”
Back home, the Securities Commission of Malaysia (SCM) chairman Syed Zaid Albar said that it has launched investigations into the two AirAsia carriers “to determine if there is any breach of securities laws”.
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) is also conducting its own assessment on the fitness and propriety of the airline executives.
Malaysia’s anti-corruption commission is also looking into the matter.