The Pakistani Sindh High Court has granted protective bail to Hoshing P Sidhwa, former director of Shaheen Air International (NL, Karachi Int'l) but directed him to appear in front of the court in 15 days to face charges of large-scale tax fraud, Pakistani newspaper Customs Today has reported.

Sidhwa has been charged with committing tax fraud by avoiding paying sales tax and federal excise duty to the tune of PKR7.4 billion rupees (USD47 million). The Pakistani Federal Board of Revenue further alleges that Sidhwa together with others accused fled the premises of Shaheen Air and participated in closing down the business to evade tax inspections.

Out of the total tax due of PRK7.4 billion, PKR955 million (USD6.1 million) is immediately recoverable.

Sidhwa's lawyer said that his client maintained his innocence and was ready to face the court but wanted to be granted protective bail to avoid arrest.

Shaheen Air International first suspended flight operations in August 2018, facing a mountain of debt. It continued to fight with the CAA and the tax authorities and operated on an on-off basis until late September 2018, when it permanently ended operations. Although it then said it would restart in January 2019, this never materialised and the airline finally filed for bankruptcy in February 2019. The airline's owners reportedly fled Pakistan in December 2018.