156 companies used fake tax certificates for govt contracts – ICPC

At least 156 companies forged tax claims to lobby for government jobs, officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and related offences Commission (ICPC) said on Wednesday, raising the number of firms earlier suspected of being involved in the fraud to triple of earlier figures given by the authorities.

The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) had reported 50 companies to the ICPC and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in November 2013, for investigation and possible prosecution for allegedly using fake documents to bid for contracts from government ministries and departments.

 The Director General of the BPP, Emeka Eze, said the names of the companies were also sent to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

 “Some people make false claim as to their capacity and then they are the people who shout the greatest and who don’t even know what a cubic metre of concrete is, who will quote either ridiculously low then when they don’t get the job they begin to shout on top of their roof,” Mr Eze said.

 “When we have such issues we also write to FIRS and once they confirm that the tax is fake we send it to EFCC or ICPC for prosecution.”

 But the ICPC said Wednesday its preliminary investigation has confirmed 156 companies, a triple of the mentioned figure, are culpable of the allegation and will likely face charges.

 “Preliminary investigations indicate that about 156 of these companies may face prosecution for using fake tax Clearance certificates,” the commission said in a statement by spokesperson, Folu Olamiti.

 Mr. Olamiti said during the recently concluded privatization exercise of PHCN plants by the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) that the commission barred two companies from making the final list of successful bidders for presenting “cooked” audit reports and under-assessed company income tax.

 “Similarly, any company that presents spurious Audited Reports in a public bid also stands the risk of being prosecuted,” he said.

 The commission has not revealed names and particulars of firms involved.

 Speaking in November, Mr. Eze said that besides the companies involved, some procurement staff of different ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) were also being investigated by the anti-graft agencies. 

The ICPC advised tax authorities to learn good practices from states that have tamper-proof tax certificates.

 “They should create electronic platforms to synchronise with Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and automate the issuance of tax clearance certificates annually to public service employees so as to reduce the incidence of illegally acquiring certificates from “easier” sources,” the commission said

Source: Business Dispatch online