Outback's Basham: Pilot tried to defraud aviation business with 'straw buyer' of plane
Wake up and good morning. Bob Basham, one of the co-founders of the Outback Steakhouse chain, apparently has a, uh, beef with an employee who worked at a Tampa aviation company Basham started up in 1995. (Photo: Basham, right, with wife Debbie, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, with wife Carole. Photo by Amy Scherzer of the St. Petersburg Times.)
Walkabout Air -- these Outback guys do love the Australian themes, eh? -- is described as a "full-service aviation company with capabilities ranging from aircraft management to charter and sales" and aircraft based in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Orlando.
In a lawsuit filed Jan. 22, Walkabout majority owner Basham sued longtime Outback chief pilot Victor Slacter for allegedly selling a Walkabout plane for at least $1-million less than it was worth, and then secretly arranging to resell the plane for a profit. Slacter’s LinkedIn page describes him as the director of flight operations for OSI Restaurant Partners, Outback’s parent company -- a title confirmed in the lawsuit.
According to the suit, Walkabout owned a 1984 Falcon 200 MSN 496 business jet that seats nine passengers. The suit claims a buyer in Aspen, Colo., was considering the plane's purchase for $2.3 million but was dissuaded by Slacter. Later Slacter told Basham he had a buyer willing to pay $1.05 million, even though, the lawsuit says, Slacter already had another buyer willing to pay more than $2 million. By selling the plan to a "straw buyer" then reselling to another, Slacter pocketed the difference. And that, Walkabout Air says, is fraud.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist