***panel Accuses MTN of Tax Evasion
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company, (NNPC) limited and its 17 subsidiaries for the umpteenth time failed to appear before the Public Account Committee of the House Representatives to answer to multiple audit queries raised against them by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation
The committee is investigating NNPC limited, the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) alongside telecommunication firm, MTN based on the annual audit report of the Auditor General of the Federation, (AGoF) between 2014-2019 financial year and non rendition of audited account by NNPC subsidiaries covering the same period
The NNPC Management had pleaded with the Committee two weeks ago to issue fresh summons on the 17 subsidiaries through the Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari.
This followed the observation of the Committee that the GMD might have been shielding them from honouring several summons issued to them with total assurance that the GMD would produce them before the Committee
However, At the resumed hearing of the Committee sitting on Wednesday, the NNPC in a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, Hon Busayo Oluwole Oke (Osun- PDP) the Group Managing Director, Mallam Mele Kyari stated that he was engaged in a function on theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta, hence his unavailability
The Committee therefore, ceded to his request for an extension of time and fixed 29th April when Kyari would appear in person with the relevant documents for the investigation
The committee was however, frowned at MTN’s unwillingness to cooperate by tendering requested documents that would ease the findings of the lawmakers.
The Chairman of the committee described the attitude of the telecom firm as ‘disrespectful to the parliament” especially that the company replied parliament’s invitation letter to the MD through an Executive Director, MD
Besides, the lawmakers lamented the abuse of fiscal regulations by individuals and companies doing business in the country as most of them were found to be evading taxes
The General Manager, (GM) financial operations of MTN Yemisi Adeleye who appeared before the lawmakers failed to tender a certificate of assets status of the company, issued her organization by the ministry of trade and investment
The certificate was expected to contain the assets of the company which would determine how much tax was expected of them.
Since incorporation in 2001, the GM said that MTN had invested more than N3.4 trillion into the Nigerian economy and had paid more than N2.5 trillion in taxes, levies and other regulatory fees as at December 2021 including N669 billion in 2021 alone
The Committee directed the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to furnish it with all MTN import duty documents as well as other relevant tax documents to ascertain if waivers were given legally or wrongly to the telecom firm