Alleged N424.3m tax evasion: FIRS ‘should probe’ oil firm

The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) has been urged to investigate an allegation of tax evasion by an oil company, Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited (HEOSL), running into several millions of naira.

Raising an alarm in a petition addressed to the Chairman of FIRS, a service-provider company to HEOSL, Eraskorp Nigeria Limited, alleged the oil company had been deducting withholding taxes meant for the company since 2017 to 2019, but had failed to remit same to the FIRS.

ccording to the petition, signed by a Director at Eraskorp, Richard Ogugu, N169,986,341.55 and $706,680.00 had been deducted by HEOSL between Jan 20, 2018 and March 27, 2019 from the company.

Eraskorp, according to the petition, did a facility protection contract for HEOSL between January 2018 and March 2019, on the OML 30 facilities in Delta State, adding that it complied with statutory demands that it remits its with-holding taxes, which it did by allowing the oil company to deduct the taxes at source.

It, however lamented that the failure of HEOSL to remit the taxes it deducted from its payments at source, had impeded its chances of obtaining its tax clearance certificate, which is making it difficult for it to continue in business.

“Eraskorp Nigeria Limited had a facilities protection contract with HEOSL covering OML 30 between 2017 and 2019. In line with the statutory requirement that withholding tax is deducted at source, HEOSL deducted same from all payments made to us under the contract, but failed to remit same on our behalf to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

“It might interest you to note that the outstanding withholding taxes of N169,986,341.55 and $706,680.00 deducted from our paid invoices between Jan 20, 2018 and March 27, 2019, are yet to be remitted on our behalf to FIRS by HEOSL.

“We have made several demands that they furnish us with the evidence of payments in our favour but all our efforts have been unfruitful…

“Due to the failure of HEOSL to remit the withholding taxes on our behalf, we have been unable to obtain our tax clearance certificate, which is a required document to conduct our business.

“In view of the foregoing, we urge you to most investigate our claims as contained in this petition …as the non-payment has caused us severe hardship, including our inability to participate on tenders…

However, responding to the allegation in a telephone chat, the company admitted that it had issues with its withholding tax records, but noted that the matter was being sorted out with revenue authorities.

“I haven’t got all the facts… and I probably need, may be about 15 minutes to speak our finance person to get the latest, but what I can tell you is that there were some issues raised about our withholding tax by the revenue so we had to go sort that out with the EFCC and our tax consultants and we entered a payment plan to clear the withholding tax over a period of months.

“We captured a plan that is acceptable with the authorities. The settlement has been agreed with the revenue board and it can be discharged over an agreed period of time”, he said.

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