IRB gets summary judgment in RM1.05b tax suit against Jho Low

KUALA LUMPUR – The Penang High Court has granted the Inland Revenue Board’s (IRB) application for a summary judgment to recover RM1.05 billion in tax arrears from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho or Jho Low (picture).

Judicial Commissioner Kenneth Yoong Ken Chinson St James in his decision yesterday ruled that there was neither a triable issue nor “some other reason” for there to be a trial to determine this statutory tax claim of RM1,053,972,936.58.

“I, therefore, allow IRB’s application to enter judgment for RM1,053,972,936.58 with interest at five per cent per annum from the date of this judgment (Oct 17) to the date of full realisation,” said the judge who also ordered Jho Low to pay costs of RM15,000.

According to the judgment that was made available to the media today, St James held that this was a straightforward statutory tax claim, whereby, the defendant (Jho Low) did not submit tax returns for the relevant years and that the IRB issued assessments to him, which he did not respond to.

“He did not challenge the service of the assessments that he failed to pay the total tax amount assessed,” the judge said.

St James also said Jho Low’s defence that he did not have bank accounts in Malaysia during the years of assessment (2013 and 2014) and did not conduct any business in Malaysia in those two years are not reasons for him to be obligated to pay tax.

“To my mind, the defendant does not need to have a bank account in Malaysia to be obligated to pay tax. In other words, not having a bank account in Malaysia is not a defence to a tax claim.

“Similarly, Jho Low does not need to conduct business in Malaysia to be obligated to pay tax. Put differently, not conducting business in Malaysia is not a defence to this tax claim,” he said.

IRB asserts that Jho Low failed to submit tax returns for the years of assessment 2013 and 2014 by the prescribed annual statutory deadline, which is no later than April 30 in the year following the year of assessment.

As a result, the IRB issued Notices of Assessment to the defendant for the sums of RM202,575,166.56 for 2013 and RM755,582,048.52 for 2014.

However, Jho Low did not pay the tax assessed within the prescribed 30-day time limit.

As a consequence, a 10 per cent increase was imposed on the assessed tax amount, namely RM20,257,516.65 for 2013 and RM75,558,204.85 for 2014.

The eventual total tax payable for 2013 and 2014 is RM1,053,972,936.58. – Bernama / pic TMR File