Shell tax row heats up

Venezuelan tax authorities have closed a Royal Dutch Shell office for 48
hours and asked for an injunction on some of the oil giant’s assets in a
multimillion-dollar tax row.

The tax dispute centres on a $131m (£74m) bill for back taxes between 2001
and 2004 that was presented to Shell last month. Seniat, Venezuela’s tax
authority, said it had put a hold on Shell goods worth $131m and shut its office
in Lake Maracaibo.

The oil company is challenging the demand. A statement ‘reiterated’ that
Shell Venezuela had paid ‘all taxes mandated by the law and complies with
Venezuelan law’.

Seniat said that under the injunction, Shell would be prevented from
exporting or selling the goods earmarked under the injunction as collateral in
the tax dispute. However, it did add that the oil giant would still be able to
use the equipment.

Venezuelan authorities have said that foreign firms may owe up to $3bn
(£1.7bn) in unpaid taxes resulting from deals agreed in the 1990s under the
leadership of former President Rafael Caldera.

Venezuela is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter and a member of the oil
producers’ cartel Opec.

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