The founders of the troubled airline Interjet are negotiating a settlement with tax authorities in an effort to avoid possible fraud charges that could be filed next month, an official familiar with the matter said.
Miguel Alemán Magnani, CEO of Interjet, and his father, President Miguel Alemán Velasco, could face fraud charges, as could the company itself, said the tax official, who asked not to be identified because tax cases are protected by law. Of privacy. Negotiations may still lead to an agreement, the person said.
Possible charges against the company and its top executives, which could be filed before the end of the year or early next year without a deal, stem from whether the company collected taxes from customers and employees but did not send the money to the government, the official said. .
Interjet’s alleged tax debts have complicated an effort to withdraw $ 150 million pledged by a group of outside investors as a lifeline for the airline, which is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic and financial woes that precede COVID-19.
Bloomberg News previously reported that investors have yet to provide the funds for fear that some of the money will be appropriated by the government to cover unpaid taxes.
The taxes that allegedly have not been paid are part of 6.2 billion pesos (310 million dollars) in government claims, the official said.
The tax bill amounts to 2.9 billion pesos, including income tax withheld from employees and value added tax collected from customers, according to an internal government document seen by Bloomberg News. Interjet owes another 3.3 billion pesos in other government fees and fuel costs from a state company, while other creditors are seeking another 7.5 billion pesos, according to the document.
Interjet said in response to questions that the figures were incorrect, but declined to provide other amounts. The airline did not respond to questions about the tax negotiations.
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If the company doesn’t come up with a plan to start covering its tax debts in the next few weeks, tax officials are prepared to file criminal charges early next year to comply with the statutes of limitations, the tax official said.
The Mexican tax attorney has the discretion to file criminal complaints with the attorney general’s office and can proceed to dismiss if the taxpayers reach an agreement even after the charges are filed. The criminal application of tax laws has been key to fiscal repression under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit Mexico, López Obrador refused to provide significant tax relief to businesses, insisting instead that they pay after allegedly avoiding the tax debts of corrupt previous governments. Under threat of criminal fraud charges, Walmart’s Mexican unit and other companies paid out a combined total of more than $ 1 billion this year.
The Germans, who are descendants of a Mexican president, have seen Interjet collapse as most of its Airbus SE jets were seized by lessors earlier this year. The carrier’s fleet has been reduced to just four active Russian-made Sukhoi Superjets, according to Flightradar24. Unionized employees protested earlier this month after saying they were not being paid.
Bank of America seized the family’s Gulfstream private jet this summer after they fell behind on payments, according to a person familiar with the lease. Interjet declined to comment on that, or on the workers’ protests.