It’s not often that Mexican tax authorities embargo the home of one of Mexico’s richest men, but that’s precisely the step they took on April 17 in the case of Miguel Alemán Valdés, an owner of the airline Interjet, sparking speculation that bankruptcy was imminent.
However, the embattled carrier was quick to dispel its impending demise as pure conjecture.
In a statement, the company maintained that it has assets exceeding US $2.25 billion, more than enough to cover its current tax debt of $28.16 million.
Founded in 2005, Interjet had been Mexico’s third-largest airline, operating budget flights throughout Mexico and the Americas. The company’s president, Miguel Alemán Magnani, is the son of a former governor of Veracruz and grandson of former Mexican president Miguel Alemán Valdés, who amassed a fortune as an early investor in the broadcaster Televisa.
In 2017 Forbes estimated Alemán Velasco’s net worth to be $2.5 billion, calling him one of the 15 richest men in Mexico.
The embargo notice placed on Alemán’s home in Mexico City’s upscale Polanco district last week included personal property such as a library and a limousine.
The company, which suspended all international flights due to the coronavirus pandemic, has been struggling financially for months.
Last August the Federal Tax Administration (SAT) ordered Interjet to pay off some $27 million in back taxes, and since the beginning of this year lessors have repossessed at least 27 aircraft in the company’s fleet.
“Basically, it’s a default situation. Interjet has not been very transparent,” one lessor told AirFinance Journal. “They’ve always been quite wishy-washy, saying we’re going to pay on this date or that date but when the date comes there’s still no payment, so we’ve lost our patience with them.”
Interjet spun the return of planes differently, calling it contract renegotiations due to market conditions.
Interjet also says it expects to settle its tax debt entirely in the coming months and pointed out that it has been making regular tax payments in accordance with a plan approved by the SAT. The company also claims that the embargo on Alemán’s home may be lifted as early as next week.