Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja
The Federal Government has threatened to prosecute citizens refusing to pay tax on their properties in foreign countries.
The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), further stated that any bank or intermediary that helped a Nigerian citizen to shield such properties would pay a fine which is the equivalent of the cost of the property.
Malami said this in a statement signed by his Spokesman, Umar Gwandu, on Thursday.
The statement read, “For defaulters who may be tempted to continue concealment of their offshore assets, Executive Order 008 as amended stipulates that any domestic or foreign bank, asset manager or intermediary that cooperates with defaulters, enabling them to conceal offshore assets and obligations pertaining to them shall, upon discovery, be liable to pay to the Federal Government a penalty on the total of such offshore assets, in addition to other penalties provided for under Nigerian laws or laws of foreign countries from which Nigeria can benefit.”
The order, which operates through the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme, is targeted at Nigerian citizens resident in Nigeria but own properties in foreign jurisdictions.
The AGF said that in order to ensure seamless exchange of information, the scheme would work closely with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit.
The statement added, “Executive Order 008 as amended mandates the AGF to set up and implement a Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme referred to as ‘VOARS. VOARS gives all relevant persons and their intermediaries who have defaulted in declaration of their offshore assets the opportunity to voluntarily declare and regularise their offshore assets.
“The Federal Government hopes that relevant persons amongst Nigerians, Nigerian entities and their intermediaries will seize the opportunity provided by VOARS to declare and regularise their offshore assets before it is too late.
“Relevant persons who voluntarily declare their offshore assets and pay the stipulated levy to the Federal Government will receive compliance certificates which allow them to use their residual assets freely without hindrance.”