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MultiChoice’s bank accounts have been blocked over allegations of 1.8 trillion tax fraud and feelers from the public are testing if this is another industry capture.

The tech industry was caught unawares in 2015 when the newly formed government of Muhammadu Buhari slammed a fine on MTN Nigeria. The charges and the offence lacked substance. It did not originate from a court order but there were vivid signs it was an agenda pushed by members of the presidency to fleece off the money-milling Telco giant – MTN.

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It was, therefore, without major shock on Friday when it was revealed that the federal government is blocking the bank account of Multichoice – the parent company of prepaid satellite TV services, GoTV & DSTV – over a tax evasion scandal.

Initially, there were fears by millions of Nigerians who use the service that DSTV services might be affected and shut down, but the company has remained on air.

This is the first time the South African company has faced enduring regulation by the Nigerian government. Some even consider the regulations hostile and specifically directed at collapsing Multichoice’s services within the country, but time can only tell if the South African-headquartered MultiChoice Group is innocent of the charges levelled against them.

The tax agency in Nigeria, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is wooing the banks where Multichoice’s services funds are domiciled to help it recover about 1.8 trillion in outstanding tax obligations.

According to FIRS chairman, it stated that Multichoice is not transparent with data from its subsidiary pay-TV services and denying FIRS access to their records shows a lack of data integrity.

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Ordinarily, considering the level of technology and data capturing involved in the prepaid satellite TV value chain, one would have thought that Multichoice would not be shy to provide verifiable data of its income to the tax agency.

Meanwhile, MultiChoice Group in a statement has responded to the allegations saying that they are currently in discussion with FIRS regarding their concerns and that they will be able to resolve the matter amicably.

After the experience of MTN in 2015, until they were able to reach a compromise with the regulators on a negotiated amount of the fine they would, one cannot be surprised if Multichoice is only seeking soft landing from the hefty penalties it may have to cough up.

Featured image source: Africa Report
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This article was first published on 13th July 2021


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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