By Camillus Eboh
Nigeria’s revenue service said on Thursday it had instructed banks to freeze the accounts of media entertainment firm MultiChoice Africa and its Nigerian subsidiary for breaching agreements and denying access to their records for auditing.
The firms are part of South Africa-based MultiChoice Group, which provides television and other entertainment services across Africa.
MultiChoice is the latest South African firm to face a huge tax bill in Nigeria after MTN Group's Nigeria unit was in 2018 ordered to pay $2 billion in taxes relating to the import of equipment and payments to foreign suppliers from 2007to 2017. The tax demand was eventually dropped.
In the latest case, Nigeria's Federal Inland Revenue Service (Firs) said in a statement it had appointed commercial banks and agents to recover 1.8 trillion naira (about R68 billion) in outstanding tax obligations from MultiChoice Africa and MultiChoice Nigeria.
"It was discovered that the companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the service, they would not promptly respond to correspondences, they lacked data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny Firs access to their records," Firs said.
"The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company."
MultiChoice Group shares were down 3.73 percent at 09:23 GMT following Firs' statement.
MultiChoice Group in South Africa and its Nigerian subsidiary said they would issue a statement soon.
MultiChoice Group, spun off in early 2019 from Naspers, Africa's biggest company by market capitalisation, reports revenues in primarily two segments – South Africa and the rest of Africa.
The rest of Africa segment contributes up to a third of its revenues, out of which its biggest market is Nigeria, the company said in its annual report for the year ended March 31.