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Customs rap Mukesh Ambani over aircraft

business Updated: Jul 05, 2008 01:21 IST
Manish Pachouly
Manish Pachouly
Hindustan Times
Mumbai Customs

Mumbai Customs seized two aircraft belonging to Reliance Commercial Developers, part of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance group, for alleged non-payment of Rs 98 crore in customs duty. An Airbus 319-115, valued at Rs 289 crore and a Falcon 900 valued at Rs 208 crore, were seized on Thursday evening. Mukesh had gifted the Airbus to wife Neeta on her birthday last November.

Officials said the jets were imported for commercial use (charters), which attracts a 10% import duty. However, it was found the aircraft were used for personal purposes — which attracts a higher duty of 18%.

A Reliance statement said: “The authorities concerned... as a matter of routine procedure sent notices to several non-scheduled operators. As part of this..., (the) aircraft were detained and handed back to the company... The Commissioner of Customs has issued the order to provisionally release the aircraft. The aircraft are allowed to fly upon provisional release... and there is no restriction on their usage. With reference to the alleged tax evasion, Reliance has fully complied with all procedures and documentation required as notified by the authorities. The notices have been referred to legal experts for further evaluation.”

A Customs official said a show cause notice would be issued to Reliance, which would have to pay a fine.

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