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Defence department justifies sale of Government jet for €418k

It would have cost €1.34 million to repair.

Secretary General of the Department of Defence Maurice Quinn.
Secretary General of the Department of Defence Maurice Quinn.

THE DECISION TO sell the Government jet to an American firm for €418,000 has been justified by the Defence Department.

At a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock asked Secretary General of the Department of Defence Maurice Quinn why the plane had sold for €418k despite being valued somewhere in the region of €750,000. It was bought in 1992 for €45 million.

Quinn said the buyer, which is based in Georgia, USA, claimed it would have paid over €800,000 if the jet was sold in a “serviceable state”. The Gulfstream IV needed “significant repairs” and Quinn said he was not authorised to order the work, which would have cost €1.34 million.

A report from the Auditor and Comptroller General (C&AG) referred to the sales procedure. It stated: “In early December 2014, the Department received a letter of intent through Gulfstream from a USA based company who offered to buy the aircraft for €836,000 on condition that it was brought back into a serviceable state.

“The Department declined this offer as the aircraft was for sale on an ‘as seen’ basis and it had no ministerial or Government sanction for any further expenditure on the aircraft. The company then offered €418,000 to purchase the aircraft ‘as seen’. This offer was accepted by the Department in January 2015.”

Addressing the PAC, Quinn said he was ”satisfied with the value achieved in the sale of the aircraft” as repair costs would have been much higher than the original offer.

C&AG Séamus McCarthy said it was difficult to determine whether the department got the best value for the jet “due to the absence of a competitive sales process”.

“Disposal for salvage was considered to be the only viable option, given the estimated cost of €1.34m to repair to a serviceable condition, the absence of any guarantee of future serviceability even after incurring repair costs of €1.34m,” Quinn told the Public Accounts Committee.

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