Samoa Roy Lee new owner of Helicopter
Local businessman, Samoa Roy Lee, is the new owner of a helicopter sold by the Ministry of Revenue in an attempt to recover alleged unpaid taxes.
The sale was confirmed by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
The Minister could not divulge how much the helicopter was sold for, citing a confidentiality agreement.
But he confirmed that the helicopter - Model AS350VA manufactured in 1981 – was auctioned with a starting price of $60,000.
“We did not recover what is owed to the Government on Value added goods and services tax (V.A.G.S.T.) but I’m glad we have received funding as a result of the owed taxes,” Tialavea said.
“I’m also glad it is out of our hands now.”
The Minister confirmed that there were four bidders.
“We sold it to the highest bidder,” he said.
“I’m sorry but I cannot disclose how much it was sold due to confidentiality clauses under the Revenue laws.
“The sale was officiated two weeks ago and Samoa Roy Lee has the helicopter at his residence.”
Asked whether the helicopter was licensed to operate in Samoa, the Minister was not sure.
“The information on the licensing process can be attained from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure; but I am not sure whether that helicopter was ever registered.”
Repeated attempts to get a comment from Samoa as to what his plans are for the helicopter were unsuccessful.
The helicopter made headlines in Samoa in early 2016 when Samoa Helicopters Company received the Government’s backing to set up Samoa’s first medical evacuation, search and rescue operation.
But the project went bust six months later, with their office in Apia shut and Company Founder and Principal Rodger McCutcheon, leaving town.
Last month, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Revenue, Avalisa Viali Fautuaali’i, put the auction on hold so that the owners could pay taxes they owed the Government. This was not done and the auction took place.