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Kingfisher Airlines dues: Service Tax Dept seeks its share from banks' pie

Unable to recover over Rs 50 crore dues from Kingfisher Airlines, the services tax department has moved courts to get a share from sale of securities being undertaken by lenders.

"What we are pleading to the court is that whatever money bankers will get from the sale of shares and properties of the airline, we should also be given our dues," Services Tax Commissioner Sushil Solanki told reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI event here.

Kingfisher Airlines
Kingfisher Airlines

The services tax department, which in the past had frozen accounts of the Vijay Mallya-promoted airline, has filed intervention applications in the Debt Recovery Tribunal and the Karnataka High Court in pursuit of the same around three months ago, he said. A consortium of 17 banks, which had collectively lent over Rs 7,000 crore to the airliner, have initiated recovery proceedings under the available legal avenues using the underlining securities which they had.

The securities included shares in multiple group companies and real estate like the corporate headquarters in the financial capital and a beach villa in Goa. When asked about the dues owed by the grounded airliner to the department, Solanki said it is over Rs 50 crore plus interest and applicable penalties. Kingfisher Airlines, which stopped operations in October 2012, allegedly did not deposit the service tax collected on ticket sales with the department, and diverted the money to other purposes.

The airlines' dues to the service tax department had gone up to Rs 140 crore at one point of time and a slew of measures, including freezing its bank accounts to regulate fund flows, have resulted in it coming down. The department is in possession of two of the grounded aircraft of Kingfisher. The services tax department had discovered that the modus operandi of Kingfishers was also adopted by other companies. The department had recovered nearly Rs 250 crore from such companies, Solanki said.

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