Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s confiscated luxury jet was finally successfully sold to a Florida-based Aviation Management Sales at a meagre amount of Rs 38.8 crore last Friday, a source told news agency PTI. It was after four aborted attempts since March 2016 that the service tax authorities eventually managed to auction off the jet to recover their dues to the tune of Rs 800 crore accumulated on account of non-payment of service tax from Kingfisher Airlines.
The transaction of the luxury A319 jet, which was parked at a hangar of the Mumbai airport since its confiscation in 2013, was completed last Friday through an e-auction in the wake of a Karnataka High Court order. The deal will go through after approval of the Bombay High Court.
“Mallya’s private jet has finally found a buyer at an e-auction conducted by state-run auctioneer MSTC last Friday. The Florida-US-based firm Aviation Management Sales LLC quoted the highest bid of Rs 34.8 crore and won the bid,” the source said.
The service tax authorities had initially fixed Rs 152 crore as the reserve price of the luxury jet at the first auction attempt in March 2016. A lone bidder then turned up and quoted a meagre Rs 1.09 crore. The department rejected the bid and then lowered the reserve price by 10 per cent.
The plane was confiscated and attached by the service tax department in December 2013, claiming tax dues of over Rs 800 crore from Kingfisher Airlines. The department was forced to sell the aircraft after the Mumbai airport operator MIAL moved the Bombay High Court, seeking a direction to the department citing heavy losses on account of the non-productive use of its space. The auction, in the past, had failed as the bids were much below the reserve price, which was cut to USD 12.5 million from USD 22.5 million initially.
The last bidding was conducted by MSTC in March 2017. This January, the Bombay High Court directed the official liquidator of the Karnataka High Court, who has been in charge of the assets and books of Kingfisher Airlines, to take required steps to take away the plane as it is been occupying space at the highly congested Mumbai airport all these while.
(With PTI inputs)