- Tax department seeking to sell plane to recover unpaid dues
- Sale delay because of little interest from potential bidders
India delayed the auction of an impounded luxury jet used by ex-billionaire Vijay Mallya by seven weeks, according to a notice posted on the website of state auctioneer, MSTC Ltd.
The delay comes after the government received little interest from prospective bidders, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Three or four more parties may be interested and they need to get a chance to inspect the Airbus A319, two of the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. The service tax department, which is conducting the auction, received only one offer when the deadline for pre-bidding ended on Tuesday, one person said. The two-day auction, which was scheduled to open Thursday, will now open on June 29.
Sumanto Bhattacharya, a spokesman for Mallya and his UB Group, declined to comment, while D.S. Malik, the spokesman for the finance ministry in New Delhi, didn’t answer two calls to his mobile phone.
The service tax department, which seized the plane for non-payment of dues by the collapsed Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., is seeking to recover some money from the sale of the aircraft that’s been grounded for more than three years. Mallya, labeled a fugitive by India after he left for the U.K. early this year without paying debt owed by the carrier he founded, used the jet with registration VT-VJM, denoting his initials.
In an advertisement about two months ago, the government said the jet was “designed for exotic and luxurious use” and has “attractive exterior and interior layout and design.”