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Multichoice Group Under Investigation: Alleged Tax Evasion in Nigeria

by inlandtownadmin
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The House of Representatives has directed its Committee on Finance to conduct an investigation into the purported failure of a South African entertainment conglomerate, Multichoice Group, to remit taxes as required.

The decision of the House follows the adoption of a motion titled ‘Need to investigate the alleged unremitted N1.8tn and $342m tax revenues owed the Federation by Multichoice Group.’

Presenting the motion’s general principles, Saidu Abdullahi, a member representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency, Niger State, highlighted that the House’s authority to probe Multichoice stemmed from Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Abdullahi emphasized that Multichoice, “A prominent multinational corporation operating in Nigeria,” faced accusations of failing to remit tax revenues owed to the Federation, citing suppression of information uncovered from submissions made in their home country.

The lawmaker revealed that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) had contracted a consultant in 2021, under a whistleblowing contract, to audit Multichoice Nigeria and MultiChoice Africa’s tax obligations. This audit, spanning from 2011 to 2020, led to investigations into the company’s tax liabilities.

He noted previous attempts by FIRS to recover unpaid taxes through legal channels, including court proceedings and attempts to settle out of court, which had not yielded results.

Abdullahi disclosed, “(The House) observes that the systems audit and investigation revealed enormous indebtedness to the tune of over N1.8tn in back total taxes for MultiChoice Nigeria and $342m in Value-added tax for MultiChoice Africa that had never paid any taxes since they started business operations in Nigeria. Both amounts were levied upon the Multichoice Group by the FIRS.”

Furthermore, he warned of ongoing efforts to sell Multichoice Nigeria and its subsidiaries to foreign interests, despite outstanding tax debts.

“If urgent actions are not taken to recover the tax revenues from the Multichoice Group, Nigeria may lose huge revenue that can inject life into the economy,” he emphasized.

In response to the resolution, the House tasked its Committee on Finance to investigate the non-remittance of tax revenues by the company, focusing on the suppression of information from their submissions in their home country. We expect the committee to report back within four weeks for further legislative action.

In addition, the House warned potential buyers of Multichoice Nigeria and its subsidiaries to stay aware of the alleged outstanding debts that they might not have disclosed in their documents.

When approached for comment, Caroline Oghuma, spokesperson for Multichoice Nigeria, initially declined but later requested a text message, to which there had been no response at the time of reporting.

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