FIRS Orders Banks To Freeze Multichoice Accounts
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover N1.8 trillion from accounts of Messrs MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) And MultiChoice Africa (MCA).
This was contained in a statement signed by FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami.
The statement confirmed the decision to appoint the banks as agents and freeze the accounts was as a result of the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.
The FIRS said: “The companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the Service, they would not promptly respond to correspondences, they lack data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny FIRS access to their records”.
MCN in particular was said to have “avoided giving the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income”.
The FIRS added:” The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company.
“The group’s performance does not reflect in its tax obligations and compliance level in Nigeria. 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 service said.
The FIRS lamented: “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 Federal Inland Revenue Service (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 statement further confirmed that Nigeria contributes 34 percent of total revenue for the Multi-Choice group.
The next to Nigeria from intelligence gathering is Kenya with 11 percent, and Zambia is in third place with 10 percent.
The rest of Africa where they have presence accounts for 45 percent of the group’s total revenue.
The FIRS noted that information at its disposal “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).
“All bankers to MCA and MCN in Nigeria have been appointed as Collecting Agents for the full recovery of the aforesaid tax debt”.
“In this regard, 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” the statement read.
It was stated that “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”.