Axiata’s Ncell submits writ petition

By NG MIN SHEN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Axiata Group Bhd’s subsidiary Ncell Pte Ltd has submitted a writ petition against a letter issued by the Nepalese Large Taxpayer Office (LTPO) on April 16 ordering Ncell to pay an outstanding sum of capital gains tax of NPR39.06 billion (RM1.45 billion).

“Ncell had on April 21, 2019, filed a Writ of Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus to the Supreme Court (SC) against the LTPO, Inland Revenue Department of Nepal and the Ministry of Finance of Nepal.

“The Ncell application was accepted by the SC today,” Axiata said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

The LTPO’s letter was issued to Ncell as a follow-up to the full written order of the SC on April 9, which relates to its oral order on Feb 6 on a public interest litigation filed by a group of Nepali individuals.

“Ncell’s writ to the SC asserts that the LTPO has not complied with the procedure as stated in the country’s Income Tax Act for making a tax assessment and has instead used the SC’s order dated April 9 to substitute the amount that the LTPO had previously assessed for TeliaSonera Norway Nepal Holdings AS (TeliaSonera) and levied it on Ncell,” Axiata said.

The SC’s full written order on April 9 had stated that the LTPO should conduct an assessment to determine the outstanding tax amount to be paid in relation to the indirect transfer of an 80% stake in Ncell following Axiata Investments (UK) Ltd’s acquisition of Reynolds Holdings Ltd — which is the immediate holding company of Ncell — from TeliaSonera, within three months from the date of receipt of the SC order by the LTPO.

The order also said the responsibility to pay tax lies with Ncell and Axiata.

On April 16, the LTPO then issued a written order to Ncell, stating the TeliaSonera assessment has been transferred to Ncell and that the balance amount of the capital gains tax arising from the transaction stands at NPR39.06 billion.

Ncell has been ordered by the LTPO to deposit the amount within seven days, or by April 22 this year.

After receiving the letter from the LTPO, Axiata said last week (April 17) that it was in the process of reviewing the letter, adding that it and Ncell have complied with all relevant regulatory and legal requirements related to the transaction.