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Tribunal orders South African firm, MultiChoice to pay over $2bn before hearing of appeal

Nigeria's Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) has ordered a South African firm, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, owners of Nigeria's DSTV, to deposit…

Nigeria’s Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) has ordered a South African firm, MultiChoice Nigeria Limited, owners of Nigeria’s DSTV, to deposit with the FIRS N900 billion (about $2.195 billion) being 50 percent of the alleged N1.823 trillion tax debt it owes the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) before its appeal is heard.The FIRS said the company was guilty of serial violation of the country’s tax regulations since it commenced operations in Nigeria.

The money also includes 10 percent of the deposit as a condition precedent for further hearing of the appeal. The five-member TAT, led by its Chairman, Professor A.B. Ahmed, issued the order on Wednesday in Lagos, following an application to it by the counsel to the FIRS.

According to local media report on Thursday, the FIRS counsel made the application under Order XI of the TAT Procedure Rules 2010, which enables a party to make an application at any stage of the proceedings.

The report added that the Counsel for the FIRS drew the attention of the Tribunal to Paragraph 15(7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 and urged the Tribunal to direct Multichoice Nigeria Limited to deposit with the FIRS 50 percent of the amount of the Assessment under Appeal as security and a condition that must be fulfilled before the prosecution of the appeal brought before the tribunal.

A statement by FIRS spokesman said that MultiChoice filed the case at the Lagos TAT following its dispute over the agency’s issuance of Notices of Assessment and Demand Note in the sum of N1.822 trillion on April 7.

He said the amount was what the FIRS calculated as due in taxation to the Nigerian government by MultiChoice after an investigation over several months to determine the extent to which the company has been evading taxes in Nigeria.

He explained that the tribunal adjourned the appeal to September 23 for report of compliance with its order and continuation of the hearing, subject to compliance with the Tribunal’s order.

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