Appleby records investigated by The Indian Express show that GMR Airport Developers Limited (GADL) International, a GMR Group group company registered in the Isle of Man, purchased a Falcon 2000 aircraft on December 9, 2013 a 10-seater passenger plane from France’s Dassault for $27.5 million setting off a series of curious transactions.

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For, within a fortnight, GADL sold this plane to a US-based aircraft sales and acquisition company Avpro Inc. for $23 million thereby incurring loss of $4.5 million in its books. Records show that 10 months after it purchased the Falcon aircraft, Avpro put it up for sale at $26.5 million or around $3.5 million above the price at which the US company purchased it from GADL International.

Appleby documents show that even as GMR group incurred a loss of $4.5 million, its transactions were structured in a manner that they escaped the VAT (Value Added Tax) payment obligation on the aircraft purchase and sale deal.

Documents available with Appleby show that GADL purchased the plane with money coming from “an Indian company connected to” GADL. This is corroborated by the GMR group, which, in a response to queries sent by The Indian Express, admitted that “temporary assistance was given by another GMR group company and the dues were settled immediately on sale of aircraft by GADL International”.

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Since the transaction involving GADL, registered in Isle of Man, and Dassault (in France), was an “intra-community” supply by virtue of both the destinations being in EU, it traveled free within the EU without payment of any VAT.

Appleby records reveal that GADL did show a VAT charge of 20 per cent under the the EU’s VAT regime but was able to recover it, leading to no actual VAT payment to tax authorities. “The VAT charge and recovery are effectively contra entries on the same VAT return and no actual VAT is paid to any tax authority provided that the purchaser (GADL) goes onto make taxable supplies with the asset purchased,” said the advice from an Isle of Man tax advisory hired by GADL, ICM Tax Consultants. This advisory is part of Appleby records.

That’s why within a fortnight of the purchase from Dassault, when GADL sold the aircraft to US based Avpro Inc., no VAT was paid because the sale took place “outside the scope of EU VAT”.

The tax consultants working on the scheme argued that, “the sale of the aircraft in the US would be a supply that would allow GADL to be considered to be ‘in business’ and would therefore allow for the input VAT recovery on the initial acquisition of the Aircraft as purchased from Dassault”.

In Sep 2014, the Falcon 2000 was publicly put up for sale by Avpro priced below market at $26.5 mn.