FIRS accuses First Bank of account manipulation in N25b suit

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has admitted that it received a purported over-bloated turnover of Biatemp Ventures Limited account from First Bank Plc.

In a statement of defence filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, FIRS stated that it received a compact disc (CD) containing evidence that the company received an inflow of over $6.8 million from the bank.

Biatemp Ventures Limited had sued First Bank and FIRS, demanding N25 billion as special and general damages for alleged manipulation of its domiciliary account and illegal withholding of its tax clearance certificate.

It also alleged that the bank manipulated its domiciliary account with over-bloated turnover of N2.4 billion, whereas the deposit to the account within the period was only $22,475 or N786, 000.

The firm claimed that the manipulation of its account and delay in issuing its tax clearance certificate prevented it from participating in bids for several businesses leading to severe economic losses and embarrassment.

It added that its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) withdrew the $22,475 deposit in about four transactions, insisting that when it obtained its statement of account from the bank, the inflows and outflows of funds varied from its records with FIRS.

The plaintiff added that the deposit and withdrawal of over $6.8 million were enlarged mirror of the $22,475 deposited into its account by its client for consultancy services and withdrawn by its CEO.

But in its statement of defence filed on its behalf by N.J. Kalu and Co., FIRS told the court that it acted on information provided by the bank.

Specifically, Senior Manager (Tax) FIRS, Oyerogba Kehinde, deposed that the service was only performing its statutory function based on information received from the first defendant (First Bank).

“In compliance with the statutory provisions, First Bank forwarded a CD to FIRS, which contained evidence that the plaintiff received a deposit of $6,861,618 into its account with the bank.

“FIRS only acted on information and facts the bank provided and the bank has never written, denying that it forwarded the CD containing information and evidence showing that the plaintiff received a cash flow of the amount on November 28, 2018,” it stated.

But First Bank in its statement of defence denied allegations that it manipulated the plaintiff’s account or collaborated with FIRS, and urged the court to declare that the plaintiff was not entitled to any of the reliefs sought.

Meanwhile, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako adjourned the case to October 28, 2019 for further hearing.