Struggling to find takers for industrialist Vijay Mallya’s private jet, the service tax department will e-auction it on August 18. Only 2 of the 42 interested bidders had turned up for the previous auction held in May.
However, the sale did not materialise as one of them was unable to deposit the earnest money deposit of Rs. 1 crore, said officials from the MSTC Limited, a government-run independent company and the service tax department’s official selling agent.
A section of Air India technicians were roped in to scrub clean the Airbus 319 of the liquor baron’s initials - VT-VJM. Grounded for more than three years, the plane was infested with damp and fungus, said officials
“The ongoing bad press about Mallya might have made some Indian buyers sceptical about the aircraft,” said another official adding that the charge for inspecting the 25-seater luxury jet has been raised to Rs. 50,000. “We only want serious buyers to partipate in the bid.”
Declared a wilful defaulter, Mallya, left India in March. His companies owe more than Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks.
Service tax officials, said that in addition to the private jet, the department had seized five ATR aircraft and two helicopters belonging to Mallya-owned Kingfisher airline in 2013.
This will be the second Kingfisher aircraft to be auctioned. Last year, the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) had auctioned an 11-seater jet belonging to the defunct airline, which was bought by a Kurla-based scrap dealer for Rs22 lakh. According to sources, the service tax department is planning to recover dues of around Rs600 crore from the airline.