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FIRS: 114 Firms Feign Ignorance of Land Allocation

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  • FIRS: 114 Firms Feign Ignorance of Land Allocation

The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) said it has uncovered 114 companies feigning ignorance of lands allocated to them.

However, the FIRS has confirmed from the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) that these lands were actually allocated to these companies. The Service has vowed to hand over the culprits to the Attorney General of the Federation for necessary action.

FIRS Executive Chairman, Tunde Fowler stated this at the African Union high level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa which held in Abuja yesterday.

He said: “114 Companies claimed they were unaware of land allocated to them, but AGIS has confirmed the ownership of all the cases referred to them and we will soon hand these cases over to the Attorney General on the way forward.”

Highlighting the benefits of curbing Illicit Financial Flows, Fowler said the “total tax debt recovered From January 2017 to 31st August 2018 was N3.631billion. Also, N1.9billion was realised from Nov 2016 – Dec 2017, while N1.731 was raked in from January 2018 – to date.

With regards to the Issuance of tax notification obligation to Company Income Tax (CIT), Non-Compliant Companies that own properties and Identified Non-Filers for Abuja, Fowler the Service has issued 2,672 Demand Notices and realised N2.983billion as total payments for Demand Notices for Abuja Properties

Fowler identified the Component of Illicit Financial Flows in Nigeria to include: Commercial Activities which are illegal flows from business that lead to hiding wealth, evading, or aggressively avoiding tax, and dodging Customs duties and Domestic Levie.

He said IFFs are often driven by criminal activities with the purpose of keeping the transactions from the purview of law enforcement agencies, or revenue authorities.

He said Corruption: Money acquired through bribery and abuse of office by public officials are enormous and can be used to further develop different projects and also increase taxation revenue collection.

He listed other IFF in Nigeria to include payments of expatriates staff emolument and remuneration, as well as failure to declare personal income tax emoluments to the relevant tax authorities in Nigeria.

Others are laundering of funds (often sourced illegally) through Real Estates transactions to acquire property in choice locations outside Nigeria; Illegal transfer of money out of Nigeria, via unapproved channels; Mispricing of goods and services transferred between interrelated Nigeria based companies and Individuals to offshore based entities and individuals; Profit Shifting – for instance through excessive interest payments on foreign and locally sourced loans and Mis-invoicing of imports and exports.

Earlier, former South African President and Chairman, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s High Level Panel on IFF, Thabo Mbeki, said that Africa looses about $80 billion annually through IFFs.

Mbeki, said the huge sums came from proceeds of commercial transactions through multinational companies, criminal activities and corruption.

He said illicit financial flow posed developmental challenges on the continent, in terms of draining hard currency reserve, reduced tax collection, deepening income gap, depleting investment and weakened governance.

He harped on the need to strengthen institutions like the Revenue Service Agencies, Customs Services and the legislation, to enable them tackle better, incidences of money laundering as well as other forms of IFFs.

Meanwhile the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said that IFFs have robbed Africa of the wealth and resources needed to invest in infrastructure, education, hospitals, electricity and many other necessities for sustainable and inclusive economic development.

The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, said: “The quest for Africa’s economic development will be accelerated if funds illegally acquired, stolen and hidden abroad by illicit finance flow perpetrators are repatriated.

“Our development will no doubt receive a leap if Multinational Corporations desist from illicit activities of aggressive transfer pricing, base erosion, profit shifting and trade mispricing.

“As indicated in the 2015 High Level Panel Report, the challenge of combatting IFFs is particularly pronounced in countries such as Nigeria, due to the dominance of the extractive industries in the economy, she said.

“In this regard, the work of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), which I used to head, as well as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, whose operations the Ministry of Finance oversees, are relevant,” she said.

Ahmed also said that to address IFFs within the context of taxation, the FIRS, several years ago, introduced Transfer Pricing Regulations to curb the incidence of aggressive transfer pricing practices and enthrone the “Arms-length” Principle in the cross-border trade practices of multinational corporations, as well as indigenous firms.

In addition, she said that the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) initiative which ended in June 2018, was a tax amnesty programme aimed at raising tax revenues, regularising the tax status of citizens and bringing concealed tax assets into the national tax base.

“Furthermore, the Federal Government is collaborating with several countries in terms of sharing information on Nigerians who own properties and bank accounts abroad.

“We also run a programme for the Automatic Exchange of Tax Information with the United Kingdom.

“In addition, we have signed agreements on the Multilateral Competent Authority on the Common Reporting Standard which is a platform for exchange of financial accounts information.

“This will come into effect as soon as the legal framework is finalised,” she said.

Ahmed also informed the panel that in July 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill into law.

She said that the NFIU would ensure autonomous and independent agency monitoring of cross-border financial flows with a view to identifying and intercepting suspicious transfers.

The Unit is also empowered to fight the funding of criminal activities, money laundering and terrorism through the international and domestic financial system.

“To aid us in our efforts, it will be appreciated if the HLP will share its experiences in domesticating international best practices in the key sectors of our economy with respect to IFFs.

“In this regard, Nigeria stands to gain much from initiatives such as the European Union’s country-by-country reporting (CbCR) transparency measures. By requiring companies that are of a particular size or operate in certain industries to publish operational and tax data for each country in which they do business.

“Governments such as ours would be better equipped to check the incidence of aggressive tax-planning strategies, adopt more targeted and risk-based tax audits, and persuade large multinational corporations to voluntarily reduce the magnitude of their tax avoidance,” she said.

Also, the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami said that Nigeria had put in place institutions, legislations and technology expertise to minimise IFFs in the country.

“We established the EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Financial Intelligence Unit, and backed them with laws, to ensure that Nigeria wins the fight against corruption and IFFs.

“We have also deployed technology in this fight. For example, we have deployed BVN in the banking sector, to identify the real owners of bank accounts.

“Also, the TSA and the IPPIS were deployed to ensure that the Federal Government resources are prudently managed,” he said.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Business

BUA, Kainos Exploration to Drag Each Other to Court Over $20 Million Scandal

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BUA Group on Monday threatened to drag Mr James Onyejekwe, the Managing Director of Kainos Exploration to court over a publication that claimed the Group was involved in a $20 million scandal.

BUA stated in a statement issued on Monday.

It stated that the publication engineered by Mr Onyejekwe was a “clear intent to impugn the integrity and reputation of BUA Group and its Chairman, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu.”

BUA takes its reputation seriously and we will continue to do everything to protect it from anyone and any entity who obstructs our mandate to conduct business in a proper, legal and socially-responsible manner.

“BUA will, therefore, utilise its legal and human resources to resist every campaign of defamation and distraction,” the statement further said.

The leading cement manufacturing company said its independent investigation showed Mr. Onyejekwe was behind the false story that went viral online.

We have, therefore, instructed our legal team to immediately commence criminal defamation proceedings against the person of Mr James Onyejekwe who is the said originator of the malicious letter fraudulently attributed to Cavendish Petroleum against our person, with damages,” the statement seen by Investors King noted.

BUA explained that “We deem these actions necessary, in order to protect the name and reputation of BUA Group.”

“We see no reason why Mr James Onyejekwe of Kainos Exploration and Processing would single out BUA in a supposed business dispute which had no link to the BUA Group in its entirety.

“Therefore, BUA finds it absurd that Mr Onyejekwe or anyone else will decide to drag BUA into their issues and/or put out such a malicious and defamatory statement, fraudulently using the name of Cavendish/Mr Mai Deribe without recourse to the truth, facts, decorum or decency,” it added.

BUA Group described the story bordering on allegations of corruption as “false, malicious and spurious.”

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Dangote Cement Emerges Best Performing Firm In Africa

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The Kogi State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (KOCCIMA) has named the Dangote Cement Plc, Obajana Plant, as the best performing company in Africa.

The award was presented to the company in Lokoja at the weekend by the Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Chief Edward Onoja, who represented the State Governor, Alhaji Yahyah Adoza Bello, at the Annual General Meeting(AGM) of KOCCIMA.

Speaking at the occasion, the President of KOCCIMA, Mr. Victor Ibrahim, said the Dangote Cement emerged through a thorough screening process that involved 20 companies.

He said: “Our screening committee considered many criteria before Dangote Cement Plc was selected”.

According to him, the Chamber put into consideration Dangote Cement’s contributions to the state’s economy through Internally Generated Revenue(IGR), as well as its good relationship with KOCCIMA.

Mr. Ibrahim said another criterion that placed the Dangote Cement in good stead is that the company has been environmentally friendly.

“We’ve visited DCP Obajana Plant and we found it complying with global best practices when it comes to the environment. Your parking lot does not constitute any environmental danger. We also considered returns to investors, the welfare of staff, the 43km Obajana-Kabba concrete road, your good relationship with the host community and your positive image”.

He announced that the Chamber of Commerce was planning to host its Trade Fair by year-end and looking forward to collaborating with the Dangote Cement Plc.

The Deputy Governor Mr. Edward Onoja expressed the appreciation of the Kogi State Government, saying the contributions of KOCCIMA and the private sector were crucial to the development of the state.

Speaking to newsmen on the sideline of the event, representative of the Dangote Cement Plc Mr. Ademola Adeyemi said the company was elated and that the award will further spur it to continue its support to the state’s economy, KOCCIMA and Corporate Social Responsibility schemes.

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MTN Appoints Chika Ekeji as Executive Lead for Strategy and Transformation

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MTN Appoints Chika Ekeji, A Nigerian-American as Executive Lead for Strategy and Transformation

MTN Group has announced the appointment of Chika Ekeji, a Nigerian-American national as an executive to lead the strategy and transformation unit of the mobile network operator.

Chika has a Master of Engineering in Computer Science from Cornell University and an MBA from MIT.

He will be leaving from McKinsey & Company, where he led the West Africa Digital Practice and served telco, financial services, and public sector clients across Africa.

His appointment with Africa’s leading mobile operator will be effective on, 15th of March. In his new role, he will be based in SA.

“We are very pleased that Chika is joining us as we work to accelerate our strategic repositioning,” says MTN Group chief operating officer Jens Schulte-Bockum.

To support the execution of the repositioned strategy, Ekeji joins a group of other recent appointees, including the new group chief financial officer, Tsholofelo Molefe.

In recent weeks, MTN also made changes to the group’s regional structure and the executive committee.

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