Helicopter auction back on

The auction for a helicopter, held by the Ministry of Revenue over alleged unpaid taxes, is back on again. 

This time the sale, scheduled for Saturday 1 December 2018, is certain.

The helicopter - Model AS350VA manufactured in 1981 – could be sold for as low as $60,000 tala. 

The plan is outlined in a public notice issued by the Ministry for Revenue.

The auction was first set for 15 September 2018.

However, the Chief Executive Officer of Revenue, Avalisa Viali Fautuaali’i, put the auction on hold so that the owners could pay taxes they owe the Government through the Ministry of Revenue.

The helicopter made headlines in Samoa in early 2016 when the newly incorporated firm back then, Samoa Helicopters Company, won the backing of the Government to set up Samoa’s first medical evacuation and 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.

This week, the Ministry of Revenue says all interested bidders are to register with them prior to the auction.

“The helicopter can be inspected at the Samoa Customs Headquarters only after registrations within the period of 28-30 November, 2018 and the successful bidder is required to make full payment on the day of auction prior to removal of the Helicopter from the Customs compound.” 

At the beginning of the month, the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said negotiations were underway between the Ministry and an Australian aviation company regarding the ownership of the helicopter.

Avalisa noted earlier the timeframe for written application for reconsideration is 5th October 2018. 

“If the Comptroller does not receive any application within this set timeframe, then the original intended auction will proceed under section 283 of the Act, which will mean a new Public Notice will be sent out advising the public of the new time and date of the auction. 

“So, to answer your question, if the Australian company does not submit a written application for reconsideration under section 274 of the Act within 5th October 2018, the Ministry will proceed with the auction as Government has a legal right to seize and sold of the helicopter given it is an uncustomed goods under sections 267(1)(a)(viii) and 283 of the Act.” 

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