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Alpha Airports under lens for security lapses

March 14, 2007 11:09 IST

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has forwarded complaints against duty-free operator Alpha Airports group to the home ministry and the Directorate General of Export Promotion.

The FIPB's missives, on March 5 and 6, have sought comments and appropriate action on the alleged security and immigration lapses committed by Alpha.

FIPB has also written to the UK-based Alpha asking how the company, which only has approval to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India, formed a joint venture and applied for a private bonded warehouse licence.

In January 2007, Alpha moved the FIPB seeking an amendment to its existing approval to become a "100 per cent owned operating and holding company for duty-free shops, flight kitchens and food and beverage outlets at Indian airports".

The FIPB has acted on the basis of complaints from Member of Parliament and former Union minister Jagdish Tytler, who in mid-February wrote to Finance Secretary Ashok Jha, alleging that Alpha and its Indian joint venture, Alpha Future Airport Retail, have committed "serious violations of norms in policy and practices".

The United Kingdom-based Alpha has a joint venture with Kishore Biyani's Future group for duty-free shops at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport. Tytler said Alpha ignored Press Note 1 in its FIPB application by not declaring its joint venture in Cochin Airport International. The policy requires JVs to disclose any other pacts in the same sector or products and submit a no-objection certificate from existing partners.

Alpha told the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion that it had no existing JV or tie-up in India in the "same" field. The company further added that its 50:50 JV in India with Kreol Trading of the UAE, only provided retail management services at CIAL duty-free shops.

Nayantara Rai & Siddharth Zarabi in New Delhi
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