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EFCC sues Chinese company over N1.2bn tax evasion

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed a lawsuit against SSL Industry Company Limited, an aluminium coil company, and two of its Chinese directors, Liu Qiang and Shi Shuai, accusing them of evading N1.2 billion in taxes.

According to the charge sheet marked FHC/ABJ/CR/30/2024, the anti-graft agency alleged that “SSL Industry Company Limited, Liu Qiang (being the Managing Director of SSL Industry Company Limited), and Shi Shuai (being the director of SSL Industry Company Limited) between 2019 to 2021, in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, being obliged by section 16/1 (a) of the Value Added Tax Act failed to deduct and pay to the Federal Inland Revenue Service within 30 days from the date the Value Added Tax became due for deduction, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 40 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act 2007 and punishable under section 40 of the same Act.”

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The EFCC further stated that “SSL Industry Company Limited (being in the business of sale of aluminium coil) Liu Qiang (being the Managing Director of SSL Industry Company Limited), and Shi Shuai (being the director of SSL Industry Company Limited) between 2019 to 2021, in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, evaded the payment of the Value Added Tax Act in the sum at N1, 217, 789, 058 to the federal inland Revenue Service, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 28 of the Value Added Tax Act and punishable under section 26 of the same Act.”

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The EFCC also accused the company’s lawyer, Barrister Babatunde Ayeni, of “making, signing and delivering to the Federal Inland Revenue Service an audited financial statement which is false as to the object of the company and the turnover.”

During the court proceedings before Justice Inyang Ekwo, none of the defendants were present. The judge adjourned the case to October 22, 2024, for arraignment, as efforts are being made to extradite the two directors who have reportedly fled to China.

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Tax evasion is a serious offence in Nigeria, with penalties and imprisonment terms for defaulting entities, as stated in Section 40 of the FIRS Act.

While tax issues fall under the purview of the FIRS, the EFCC can prosecute all forms of financial crimes, including tax defaults.

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