Federal Inland Revenue Service

The Federal Government has uncovered 114 companies neck deep in shady land deals, even as it raked in N1.173 billion in tax revenues from January till date.

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, made the disclosures in Abuja on Thursday at the the African Union high level panel on illicit financial flows from Africa.

According to him, the 114 companies feigned ignorance of having various lands allocated to them.

But Fowler said the FIRS sought sufficient clarification and confirmation from the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) to determine that those plots were actually allocated to companies and vowed to hand over the false claimants to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation for further actions.

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

Earlier in her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Mahmoud Isa Dutse, said the Federal Government, in its efforts to address IFFs within the context of taxation, introduced the Transfer Pricing Regulations via the FIRS several years ago.

She said the move was to curb the incidence of aggressive transfer pricing practices and enthrone the “Arms-length” Principle in cross-border trade practices of multinational corporations, as well as indigenous firms.

“More recently, this administration launched the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) initiative which ended in June 2018. VAIDS 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 explained. Ahmed said President Muhammadu Buhari, signed the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill into law in July.

“This autonomous and independent agency monitors 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.

“We are determined in the fight against IFFs. We are therefore committed to fighting this on all fronts. 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 added

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