Officials of NICON Luxury Hotel and Nicon Insurance were quizzed on Wednesday.
The troubles of the Chairman of Global Fleet Group, Jimoh Ibrahim, continued on Wednesday as the Special Investigation and Enforcement Unit, SIEU, of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, quizzed officials of two of his companies for several hours for alleged N90 million outstanding tax liabilities due to the Federal Government.
In exercising its compliance enforcement mandate, the FIRS held and interrogated officials of the NICON Luxury Hotel and NICON Insurance Limited for allegedly failing to remit the money.
The FIRS said the officials were quizzed to help it gather vital information that would facilitate the recovery of arrears of taxes collected by the companies on behalf of government. The taxes collected are Companies Income Tax, CIT, Education Tax, EDT, Withholding Tax, WHT, and Value Added Tax, VAT.
The decision to enforce compliance followed series of notices served on the companies by the FIRS to pay their outstanding tax liabilities, which they reportedly ignored despite admitting their indebtedness.
The FIRS’ Head, Communications & Liaison Department, Wahab Gbadamosi, said the enforcement exercise was in line with the provisions of Section 40 of the FIRS Establishment Act 2007.
The law authorizes the FIRS to take disciplinary action against any person, group, agency or organization obliged to deduct any tax listed in its First Schedule, but fails to do so, or having done so, fails to remit same to the service within 30 days from the date the amount was deducted or the time the duty to deduct arose.
The law provides that any defaulting person or organization “commits an offence and shall, upon conviction, be liable to pay the tax withheld or not remitted in addition to a penalty of 10 per cent of the tax withheld or not remitted per annum and interest at the prevailing Central Bank of Nigeria minimum re-discount rate and imprisonment for period of not more than three years.”
In November 2013, the billionaire businessman was also taken in and quizzed for several hours by the SIEU over alleged attempt to defraud the Federal Government of over N6.8 billion tax revenue through his airline, Air Nigeria.
The airline has been grounded for several years amidst allegations of forgery of aviation documents and tax evasion.
That was not the first time Mr. Ibrahim would be having tax evasion issues. A Federal High Court in May 2013 awarded N200 million judgment debts against NICON Insurance and the National Insurance Commission, NAICOM in favour of FIRS.
The debt was in respect of financial commitments to the Federal Government between 2007 and 2008, which NICON Insurance failed to meet.
The tax agency had claimed the sum of N99.92million against the two firms, being balance of its entitlements under its Staff Welfare Insurance Scheme with NICON Insurance. It had accused NICON Insurance and NAICOM of wrongfully holding back the remittance despite repeated demands.
The FIRS had claimed that an account reconciliation meeting on February 27, 2008 established NICON’s indebtedness at about N155.42 million, which was to be repaid in line with an agreed schedule.
Initially, it was gathered that NICON paid about N23 million in March 2008 as the first installment; another N15million in May that year, and a total of N17.5million between 2008 and December 2010, leaving the N99.92million as balance, which it refused to settle, resulting in the suit.
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