ABUJA, Aug 25 (Reuters) – A Nigerian tax tribunal ordered the local unit of South Africa’s pay-TV company Multichoice to pay 50% of a disputed 1.8 trillion naira ($4.38 billion) tax bill relating to previous years, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said on Wednesday.
The deposit of 50% of the sum was a condition that had to be fulfilled by Multichoice Nigeria Ltd before the tribunal could hear a full appeal on the matter, the FIRS statement said.
Multichoice Nigeria, a division of a South African group, provides DSTV, a cable TV product that is popular in Nigeria.
The statement came after the FIRS said in July it had instructed banks to freeze the accounts of Multichoice because the company had refused to grant access for the tax auditors to its servers.
FIRS Chairman Muhammad Nami said at the time that banks would have to recover the 1.8 trillion naira which the tax service said it was owed.
Reuters has requested comment from Multichoice to Wednesday’s statement.
The tax tribunal adjourned the case until Sept. 23, subject to the company complying with its order, FIRS said in its statement.
Multichoice is the latest South African group with a significant presence in Nigeria to face a multi-billion-dollar tax demand from the West African country.
In January 2020, Nigeria’s attorney general withdrew a $2 billion tax bill it had sought to impose on the mobile telecoms group MTN, after a long saga that investors said had damaged Nigeria’s reputation as an investment destination.
($1 = 411.0000 naira)