FIRS directs banks to freeze assets of MultiChoice over N1.8trn debt | Dailytrust

FIRS directs banks to freeze assets of MultiChoice over N1.8trn debt

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it has  appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover the sum of N1.8 trillion from accounts of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) And MultiChoice Africa (MCA).

In a statement by its Director, Communications and Liaison Department, Dr. Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, said the decision was made due to the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.

The statement, which was signed by the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, stated that the agency discovered that MultiChoice has persistently breached agreements and undertakings with the service, as it did not respond to correspondences, indicating it lacked data integrity and transparency as they continually deny FIRS access to their records.

He said, “Particularly, MCN has avoided giving the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income.

“The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company.”

Nami said the group’s performance does not reflect in its tax obligations and compliance level in Nigeria.

Multichoice has never paid VAT in Nigeria

He said, “The level of non-compliance by Multi-Choice Africa (MCA), the parent Company of Multi-Choice Nigeria (MCN) is very alarming.

“The parent company, which provides services to MCN has never paid Value Added Tax (VAT) since its inception.

“The issue with Tax collection in Nigeria, especially from foreign-based companies conducting businesses in Nigeria and making massive profits is frustrating and infuriating to the FIRS.

“Regrettably, Companies come into Nigeria just to infringe on our tax laws by indulging in tax evasion. There is no doubt that broadcasting, telecommunications and the cable-satellite industries have changed the face of communication in Nigeria.

“However, when it comes to tax compliance, some companies are found wanting. They do with impunity in Nigeria what they dare not try in their countries of origin.”

The chairman added that Nigeria contributes 34 per cent of total revenue for the MultiChoice group with Kenya contributing 11 per cent Zambia 10 per cent with rest of Africa where the group has  presence accounting for 45 per cent of its total revenue.

He stated, “Information currently at the disposal of FIRS has revealed a tax liability for relevant years of assessment for ₦1,822,923,909,313.94 (One trillion, eight hundred and twenty-two billion, nine hundred and twenty-three million, nine hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and thirteen naira, ninety-four kobo only) and $342,531,206 (Three hundred and forty-two million, five hundred and thirty-one thousand, two hundred and six dollars only).

“Under FIRS powers in Section 49 of the Companies Income Tax Act Cap C21 LFN 2004 as amended, Section 41 of the Value Added Tax Act Cap V1 LFN 2004 as amended and Section 31 of the FIRS (Establishment) Act No. 13 of 2007, all bankers to MCA & MCN in Nigeria were therefore appointed as Collecting Agents for the full recovery of the aforesaid tax debt.”

He added that the affected banks are required to sweep balances in each of the above-mentioned entities’ accounts and pay the same in full or part settlement of the companies’ respective tax debts until FULL recovery.

“This should be done before the execution of any transaction involving the companies or any of their subsidiaries. It is further requested that the Federal Inland Revenue Service be informed of any transactions before execution on the account, especially transfers of funds to any of their subsidiaries.”

The Executive Chairman, FIRS concluded that it is important that Nigeria put a stop to all tax frauds that have been going on for too long.

“All Companies must be held accountable and made to pay their fair share of relevant taxes including back duty taxes owed, especially VAT for which they are ordinarily agents of collections,” he said.

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