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FIRS Goes After MultiChoice, Demands N1.8 Trillion in Outstanding Taxes

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Multichoice- Investors King

The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) has beamed its light on the activities of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) and MultiChoice Africa (MCA), the owners of DSTV, for owing the agency N1.8 trillion in outstanding taxes.

Mohammad Nami, the Chairman, FIRS, accused one of Africa’s largest corporations (MCA) and the most profitable in recent years of never paying Value Added Tax (VAT) since its inception in Nigeria.

Nami said, “Information currently at the disposal of FIRS has 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).”

He, therefore, stated that all deposit money banks operating in Nigeria, where MCN and MCA have accounts, have been mandated to recover the stated amount from their bank accounts and pay the full of the companies’ tax debts to the agency.

“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.

“This should be done before the execution of any transaction involving the companies or any of their subsidiaries.

“FIRS requested the banks to inform it of any transactions before execution on the accounts, especially transfers of funds to any of their subsidiaries.”

In a statement released on Thursday morning, the chairman said “They (foreign companies) do with impunity in Nigeria what they dare not try in their countries of origin.”

He accused the companies of sabotaging FIRS’s efforts at accessing their servers for audit.

It was discovered that the companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the Service, they would not promptly respond to correspondences, they lacked data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny FIRS access to their records.

“Particularly, MCN has avoided giving the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income. The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company,” FIRS said

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 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,” he added.

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.

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Banking Sector

Fidelity Bank Promotes 745 Staff Members

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Nneka Onyeali Ikpe, Fidelity Bank CEO - Investors King

Seeking to increase staff morale while empowering them to work more efficiently, Fidelity Bank has announced the promotion of 745 employees following the performance review of two financial years – 2019 and 2020.

A total of 461 staff members benefited from the FY 2019 promotion exercise, while 284 staff members benefited from the FY 2020 exercise. The beneficiaries cut across the senior, middle, and junior management cadre of the bank, and the promotion was based on merit, using a transparent and robust performance management system in line with global best practices.

Speaking about this, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc said “I am very delighted to announce the promotions for 2019 and 2020 financial years. Releasing the list for 2 financial years’ promotion at the same time is something we are very proud of. We strongly believe that the continuous growth of our bank over the years has been largely attributed to the commendable efforts and unrelenting sacrifices of our employees. Promotion is one of the many ways we express our gratitude. We are thankful to be home to many amazing talents that continue to drive our value and most importantly, serve our stakeholders to the highest standards.”

Speaking further, she said. “Since I was appointed the MD/CEO of our great bank in January 2021, I have been committed to a 7-point agenda to move our bank further, out of which workforce transformation is a key category. Staff performance and reward are critical to us, and as an organisation, we will continue to make available adequate resources to deepen the skills and entrench a culture of high performance amongst employees. I wish to appreciate all members of the Fidelity Bank family for their commitment and drive and unrelenting sacrifices towards delivering our objectives. As we move forward in our quest to becoming a leading tier-one bank, I encourage all elevated staff to see their promotion as a call to rededicate themselves to excellence.”

Fidelity Bank has continued to empower its employees with invaluable resources capable of putting them at the forefront of innovative transformation. In March 2021, the bank announced two capacity-building projects – One Culture Project and Project Alpha – that were targeted at transforming the workplace for its staff. In particular, Project Alpha was created to help Fidelity Bank develop a robust and holistic learning and development framework for all staff while One Culture Project was formed to reinforce the behaviour and value systems that will help the bank, as well as staff, achieve set goals.

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Nigeria’s Central Bank To Launch Digital Currency On Oct 1

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that it will launch its much-awaited digital currency on October 1, to mark Nigeria’s independent anniversary.

CBN Director of IT Department, Rakiya Mohammed, revealed this at a private webinar, explaining that the banking sector regulator had been conducting research towards the launch of digital currencies since 2017.

She added that the central bank may conduct a proof of concept before the end of the year. The move to adopt the digital currency was first mulled by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in May.

He had said a digital currency will soon become a reality in the country, adding that the central bank had already set up its committee which was working on the concept.

The CBN governor had further restated the determination of the apex bank to drive the e-Naira project during the recent 306th Banker’s Committee meeting, pointing out that the process was ongoing.

Mohammed was quoted by Nairametrics to have highlighted the benefits of the digital currency, saying it would enhance macroeconomic management, boost economic growth, facilitate cross-border trade, boost financial inclusion and monetary policy effectiveness.

Mohammed said the digital payment instrument would further improve payment efficiency, revenue tax collection, remittance improvement, and targeted social intervention.

She added that the innovation would also benefit the fintech ecosystem by enhancing operational efficiency, opportunities for fintech start-ups in building services and products as well as financial inclusion that will contribute to economic growth, and the creation of a new system complimenting the traditional payment system.

Mohammed had last month said the proposed digital would be launched before December. According to her, every Nigerian would have access to digital currency.

She had while briefing journalists at the end of a Bankers’ Committee meeting said: “Let me state categorically that cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and the rest of them are not under the control of the central bank; they are purely private decisions that individuals make and are not part of this arrangement.

“We have spent over two years studying this concept of central bank’s digital currency and we have identified the risks. And it is one of the reasons why I said we are setting up a central governance structure that would involve all industry stakeholders to access all the risks as we continue on this journey.

“Very soon we would make an announcement on the date for the launch and by the end of the year, we should have the digital currency.”

According to her, about 80 percent of central banks across the world are presently exploring the possibility of issuing the central bank’s digital currency, saying that Nigeria cannot be left behind.

Mohammed had added: “You are aware that we have two forms of fiat money: The notes and the coins. So, the central bank’s digital currency is the third form of fiat money. So, this digital money is going to complement the cash and note that we have.

“The central bank digital currency will just be as good as you having cash in your pocket. So, if you are having the currency in your pocket, you are as good as having cash on your phone.

“Now, why did we need to go into this? There are different cases that the central bank is looking at.

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Finance

UK Financial Reporting Council Sanctions KPMG On Quality Of Banking Audits

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KPMG

The United Kingdom Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has sanctioned one of the biggest audit firms, KPMG LLP over the quality of its banking audits which U.K.’s industry regulator said it was “unacceptable” that for the third year running the accounting firm’s work wasn’t up to scratch.

The FRC in its annual report released on Friday examined the U.K.’s seven biggest auditing firms, which include Ernst & Young and Deloitte, said almost 30 percent of all bookkeeping was below par in the year to the end of March.

“Overall Inspection results at KPMG did not improve and it is unacceptable that, for the third year running, the FRC found improvements were required to KPMG’s audits of banks and similar entities.

“Given the systemic importance of banks to the UK economy, the FRC will be closely monitoring KPMG’s actions to ensure findings are addressed in a timely manner.

“KPMG has agreed on additional improvement activities to be delivered this year over and above its existing audit quality improvement plan,

“In response to our findings this year, the firm’s senior leadership has committed to making further changes necessary to improve audit quality in time for 2021 year-end audits.

“We will monitor these closely to assess on a timely basis the extent to which they address our findings,” the report released on Friday stated.

The FRC said that “We will also continue to focus our inspections on KPMG banking audits.”

The regulator said central to achieving consistent audit quality is a healthy culture within the audit practice that encourages challenge and professional skepticism, as it set out in its letter to Heads of Audit
in December 2020.

“We have a major project underway to examine audit culture, including an international conference held in June this year on the subject.

“Operational separation of audit practices from the rest of the firm should help the largest firms to focus on developing an appropriate audit culture,” the FRC stated.

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