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Tax Tribunal Directs DSTV To Pay 50% Of N1.8T FIRS Tax Claim Before Hearing Appeal

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Multichoice- Investors King

The Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) sitting in Lagos has ordered the local unit of South Africa’s pay-TV, Multichoice Nigeria Limited to pay 50 percent of N1.8 trillion owed to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in tax arrears before it could hear its appeal.

The FIRS had issued a post no debt on bank accounts of the owners of popular cable television services, DSTV over the dispute on claims of N1.8 trillion outstanding tax as determined through a forensic audit by the Nigeria tax agency.

Multichoice Nigeria Limited had filed an appeal against the FIRS before the Tax Appeal Tribunal in Lagos to challenge the claim by the tax agency on its outstanding tax debt.

However, on Tuesday, the five-member TAT led by its Chairman, A.B. Ahmed, a professor issued an order directing the pay-TV firm to deposit 50 percent of the amount claim by FIRS before it could hear its appeal.

In a statement, FIRS director of communications, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad said the tribunal ruling was sequel to an application to it by the Counsel to FIRS.

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.

Counsel for 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 urge 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 TAT.

In certain defined circumstances to which the Multichoice appeal fits, Paragraph 15 (7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 (FIRS Act) requires persons or companies seeking to contest a tax assessment to pay all or a stipulated percentage of the tax assessed before they can be allowed to argue their appeal contesting the assessment at TAT.

Multichoice Nigeria Limited filed the matter at the Lagos TAT following its dispute over FIRS’ issuance of Notices of Assessment and Demand Note in the sum of N1,822, 923,909,313.94k on April 7, 2021.

The amount constitutes what the FIRS calculated as due in taxation to the Federal Government of Nigeria from Multichoice after an investigation over several months to determine the extent to which Multichoice has been evading taxes in Nigeria.

At Tuesday’s hearing of the matter in Appeal No: TAT/LZ/CIT/062/2021 19/08/2021 (Multichoice Nigeria Limited v. Federal Inland Revenue Service), Multichoice Nigeria Limited amended its Notice of Appeal and thereafter sought through its counsel, Bidemi Olumide of AO2 Law Firm for an adjournment of the proceedings to enable it to respond to the FIRS’ formal application for accelerated hearing of the Appeal and prayer before the TAT directing Multichoice to produce before the Tribunal the integrated Annual report and Management Account Statements of Multichoice Group Ltd for Tax Years 2012 to 2020., among other prayers.

In response, the FIRS Counsel asked TAT to issue an order requiring that Multichoice makes the statutory deposit of 50 percent of the disputed sum.

After hearing arguments from both sides, TAT upheld the FIRS submission and directed Multichoice Nigeria Limited to deposit with the FIRS an amount equals to 50 percent of the Assessment under the Appeal plus a sum equal to 10 percent of the said deposit as a condition precedent for further Hearing of the Appeal.

Thereafter, TAT adjourned the Appeal to 23 September 2021 for the report of compliance with its Order and continuation of the hearing, subject to compliance with the Tribunal’s order.

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Appointments

Union Bank Announces the Appointment of Aisha Abubakar as Independent Non-Executive Director

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Union bank - Investors King

Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (“Union Bank”) has announced a change to the membership of its Board of Directors with the appointment of Ms. Aisha Abubakar as an Independent Non-Executive Director effective 9th September 2021, following the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Ms. Abubakar joins the Board of Union Bank following her tenure as Nigeria’s Honourable Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development from 2018 to 2019. Prior to this, she also served as the Honourable Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment between 2015 and 2018. At the start of her career, Ms. Abubakar worked at Continental Merchant Bank Ltd., African Development Bank and African International Bank.

She is an accomplished public sector administrator with over three decades of professional experience in Public Service and Pension Administration, Investment Banking, SME Finance/Rural Enterprise Development and Micro-Credit Administration.

Ms. Abubakar is a Fellow of the International Professional Managers Association (IPMA-UK), and the President of the International Experts Consultants (IEC-UK).

Commenting on the addition to the Board, Mrs. Beatrice Hamza Bassey, Union Bank’s Board Chair said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I welcome Ms. Aisha Abubakar to the Board. She brings many years of robust experience which will be invaluable in supporting our efforts to steer the Bank forward and deliver on our strategic objectives.”

Also commenting, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Emeka Okonkwo said: “I am pleased to welcome our new Independent Non-Executive Director, Ms. Aisha Abubakar to the Board. We look forward to drawing from her wealth of experience and fresh perspectives as we continue to execute our vision to be Nigeria’s most reliable and trusted partner.”

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Business

AfDB Approves $50M Trade Finance Deal with Standard Chartered Bank

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African Development Bank - Investors King

The African Development Bank Group has approved a $50m Trade Finance Unfunded Risk Participation Agreement (RPA) for StandardChartered Bank.

This was contained in a statement titled ‘African Development Bank approves a $50m Multinational Trade Finance Risk Participation Agreement facility for Standard Chartered Bank’ published on the bank’s website on Wednesday.

The statement said, “The board of directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $50m Trade Finance Unfunded Risk Participation Agreement facility between the African Development Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.”

The essence of this agreement is to promote intra-Africa trade, ensure regional integration and lessen the trade finance gap in Africa.

“The agreement is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, promote regional integration, and contribute to the reduction of the trade finance gap in Africa, in line with implementation aspirations of the African Continental Free Trade Area,”

The bank’s Director for Financial Sector Development, Stefan Nalletamby, stated that “We are excited about finalising this facility with Standard Chartered Bank as it offers us the flexibility to use our strong AAA-rated risk-bearing capacity to increase access to trade finance and boost intra/extra-African trade on the continent, in support of the AfCFTA.

“This partnership is expected to catalyze more than $600m in value of trade finance transactions across multi-sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and energy over the next three years.”

Director-General of the bank’s Southern Africa region, Leila Mokadem, was quoted to have said, “The advent of COVID-19, coupled with stringent regulatory/capital requirements and Know Your Customer compliance enforcement, has seen many global banks reduce their correspondent banking relationships in Africa, while some are exiting the market altogether.

“There is, therefore, an urgent need for financing to reenergise Africa’s trade, which requires more participation of institutions like the African Development Bank.”

The parties in the agreement are expected to share the default risk on a portfolio of eligible trade transactions originated by African Issuing Banks and indemnified by Standard Chartered Bank.

Beneficiaries of this facility are issuing banks in Africa with the ability to grow their trade finance business has been constrained by inadequate trade confirmation lines from international banks.

Other beneficiaries are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and domestic firms which rely on these issuing banks to fulfill their trade finance commitments.

The RPA facility is aligned with the AfDB’s High 5 priority goals which are: light up and power Africa, feed Africa, industrialize Africa, integrate Africa, and improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

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SMEs

Standard Chartered Launches Flexible ‘Smart Business Loan’ Product To Support SMEs

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Standard Chartered Nigeria - Investors King

Standard Chartered on Wednesday launched its Smart Business Loan (SBL) product to support Small and Medium Scale Enterprise (SMEs) in Nigeria.

David Idoru, Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking, of the bank in Nigeria, said in a statement in Lagos that SBL was an unsecured installment/term loan available to SME clients within key target sectors.

“Qualified SMEs would be able to access up to N20million loan, without providing tangible security/collateral to purchase asset, finance business expansion and other capital expenditure needs.

“This loan was designed to help SMEs meet their short to medium-term needs.

“As a Bank, our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity in the locations we operate in. This is done through offering cash, lending, trade and wealth management solutions that specifically drive economic growth,” he said.

Idoru said that the bank was constantly looking for ways to ensure SMEs get access to the needed support to enable their businesses to thrive, adding that prior to the product launch, clients were required to provide full collateral cover to access loans from the bank, but SBL had been designed to provide the necessary flexibility to the clients.

“It is accessible to new and existing clients of the Bank with no waiting period, including small and medium scale organisations, who can access up to N20million in loans without collateral for a maximum tenure of two years,” he said.

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