Naresh Goyal is a well-known Indian businessman and the founder of Jet Airways, once the largest airline in India. He started his career as a cashier in a travel agency and rose to become one of the richest Indians in the world. However, his fortune changed drastically with the downfall of his company, which was grounded in 2019 due to financial troubles.
He is currently facing charges of money laundering and bank fraud by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In this article, we will look at his net worth in 2023 and how it has changed over the years.
Who is Naresh Goyal and How Did He Start His Career?
Naresh Goyal was born in Sangrur, Punjab in 1949 in the house of a jewelry dealer. His father died when he was a child and his family faced economic hardships. He studied up to sixth standard at Govt. Raj High School for Boys and then moved to Patiala, where he completed his Bachelor of Commerce degree from Govt. Bikram College of Commerce.
In 1967, he joined his maternal uncle’s travel agency, East West Agencies, as a cashier with a salary of Rs 300 a month. He then worked with various foreign airlines, such as Lebanese International Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Middle East Airlines, and Philippines Airlines, gaining experience and contacts in the travel business.
In 1974, he set up his own agency named Jetair with £500 from his mother. He represented several international airlines, such as Air France, Austrian Airlines, and Cathay Pacific, in India. He also established ties with influential politicians and businessmen, who became his loyal customers.
Jet Airways: The Rise and Fall of an Empire
In 1993, Goyal took advantage of the opening of the Indian economy by the Congress government led by P. V. Narasimha Rao and the Open Skies Policy by the Government of India to set up Jet Airways for the operation of scheduled air services in domestic sectors in India.
He started operating Jet Airways with initial seed money from Tail Winds incorporated, Isle of Man. He expanded his business by acquiring Air Sahara in 2007 and launching international flights to various destinations. He also forged partnerships with Etihad Airways, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, and Air France-KLM.
He was known for his high standards of service and customer satisfaction. Following the 2005 IPO of Jet Airways, Forbes magazine declared him the 16th richest person in India, with a net worth of US$1.9 billion. He also featured on the Forbes list of billionaires in 2008 and 2013.
However, his wealth started to decline as Jet Airways faced stiff competition from low-cost carriers like IndiGo and SpiceJet, rising fuel prices, high taxes, and regulatory hurdles. He also faced allegations of tax evasion, foreign exchange violations, and lobbying with politicians.
He tried to revive his company by selling a 24% stake to Etihad Airways in 2013 and restructuring its debt in 2019. However, these efforts proved futile as Jet Airways failed to pay its employees, creditors, lessors, and vendors. The airline was grounded in April 2019 after lenders refused to provide emergency funds.
Naresh Goyal, chairman of Jet Airways, claims the Etihad partnership will increase profitability and decrease costs:
Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal says Etihad deal will improve profits, cut costs. PTI
— The Times Of India (@timesofindia) May 24, 2013
How Much is Naresh Goyal’s Net Worth?
Naresh Goyal publicly holds two stocks with a net worth of over Rs 581.7 crore as of June 30, 2023. These are Jet Airways (India) Ltd (Rs 580.6 crore) and SpiceJet Ltd (Rs 1.1 crore). However, these holdings are likely to be worthless as Jet Airways is undergoing insolvency proceedings and SpiceJet is facing financial difficulties.
Moreover, Goyal’s assets may be attached or confiscated by the ED or the CBI as part of their investigations. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Goyal’s net worth in 2023 is negligible or negative. This is a stark contrast to his peak net worth of US$1.9 billion in 2005, which translates to about Rs 14,000 crore at the current exchange rate.
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What Are the Legal Troubles and Charges That Goyal is Facing?
Goyal’s woes did not end with the collapse of Jet Airways. He also faced investigations and allegations of financial irregularities, tax evasion, money laundering, and foreign exchange violations by various agencies, such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Income Tax Department, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In September 2019, he was stopped from flying abroad by the immigration authorities at Mumbai airport on the basis of a lookout circular issued by the ED. He was questioned by the ED for several hours in connection with a case of alleged contravention of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) involving Jet Airways and Etihad Airways.
In September 2023, he was arrested by the ED after being questioned for 8 to 10 hours. An FIR had been filed against him based on a complaint by Canara Bank for allegedly defrauding the bank of Rs 1,000 crore through forged documents and fictitious transactions. He was remanded to ED custody till September 11, 2023.