The Albanian government has imposed a record fine from 120 million euro to the company "Bankers Petroleum" for tax evasion.
The fine, besides being the largest financial measure ever registered in Albania, is the result of a two-year investigation by the General Directorate of Customs. According to the investigations, between the 2014 and the 2018, the company Bankers Petroleum has evaded at least 30 million euros of excise contributions on the raw materials used for the production of crude oil.
The excise tax concerns a semi-ready fuel, known as "Solar", which is used to dilute crude oil. In the 2014 the Albanian government decided to tax this product because it suspected that, even if it was declared as a raw material for oil production, it was sold to the market creating a great scheme of evasion.
However, the change in the law has not completely erased the evasions and - again in the 2014 - a decision was taken by the administrative court that abolished two administrative customs acts in order to receive excise duties from the company "Bankers Petroleum"
A decision neglected for many years by the Directorate General of Customs, while the Ministry of Finance insisted on collecting taxes. For this reason, at the end of 2016, the former finance minister officially asked the former customs director, Belinda Ikonomi, to enforce the law and collect the obligations of "Bankers Petroleum".
The following year, in-depth investigations began, from which it emerged that Bankers Petroleum evaded at least 30 million of excise contributions.
An open challenge
Already in the 2018, the Albanian administration lost the legal battle to international arbitration against Bankers Petroleum. According to the decision, the company would have to return 57 million dollars that the authorities claimed were unpaid tax obligations.
Indeed, the Albanian tax authorities claimed that the oil company would have to pay in the 2011, 57 millions of US dollars as an income tax, which together with interest would reach a total amount of 76 million dollars.
Under the contract that Bankers had with the Albanian authorities, all the company's operating expenses were deducted from the amount of income, to then establish the amount of the income tax that the company would have to pay.
The two international auditing companies, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Navigant, have argued, however, that the expenses declared by the Bankers as reimbursable costs "have been declared in accordance with the rules and the contract". Pending a final decision, however, the Bankers had begun to pay the obligations according to the Albanian tax calculations, which were then returned "according to the procedures to be agreed with the authorities".
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