'N1 billion Delta tax revenue missing'

THE GUARDIAN Newspaper- Chido Okafor

THE alleged disappearance of over N1 billion tax deductions paid by one of the multi-national oil companies, Chevron Nigeria Ltd, through an old generation bank to a new era bank that collects revenue for the government of Delta State has stirred misgivings between the two financial institutions.

Delta State Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR) is striving to trace in which bank’s possession the missing money is.

It was learnt that Chevron mandated her bankers (the old era bank) to transfer the N1 billion to the state government’s coffers through its collecting bank (the new generation institution), but the money which was allegedly paid since December 27, 2012, has not been credited.

Officials of the board told The Guardian that the old bank was to pay the said amount into the state government’s account managed by the new order financial house but as at last Friday, the revenue agency was yet to receive confirmation on the transaction.

This engendered fears at the board as to who is in custody of the fund.

The old bank, The Guardian learnt, is firmly insisting that the money has been successfully transferred into DBIR’s account with the new one, which, however, insisted that it had not received the fund.

“This is a big problem. How can the two banks be confused in this kind of situation. I am beginning to wonder that somebody somewhere is trying to play games with this issue but I know that they will not get out of this matter so easily because I trust our Chairman is going to go all out to ensure that the banks are sanctioned,” a source at DBIR said

DBIR’s Executive Chairman, Joel-Onowakpo Thomas, yesterday confirmed the development, saying: “It is true that the over N1 billion paid by the multi-national oil company is missing between the two banks.

“We have been trying to fish out which among the two banks that is holding to our funds. It is because of circumstances like this that warranted the board’s several stakeholders meeting with our collecting banks warning them against this unethical banking practice.

“I have said time without number that, what is being practised is not banking, but providing the breeding ground for monumental fraud and I am calling on the CBN and the other regulatory agencies to investigate this particular case and sanction the erring banks accordingly.”

The DBIR boss said he was convinced beyond doubt that the actions of the banks were deliberate in order to improve their cash position for their year end as required by new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulations. He implored the CBN not to encourage such actions if it is really desirous of knowing the healthy and professional banks.

He added: “I feel it is a breeding ground for fraud. If a prominent tax payer like Chevron can be so subjected to tracing, what will happen to millions of small tax payers whose payment patterns are not defined? When we are through with who is holding the funds, be rest assured that, the particular bank will be publicly sanctioned. I also expect CBN to take proactive action on this."


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