AS MANY as 30 companies in Cyprus owe the state about €100m in VAT, according to data revealed by Politis yesterday.
Of the 30 legal entities, two of them (or their directors) cannot be traced, while criminal prosecutions are pending against another seven.
The data was prepared by tax authorities and handed to parliament at the latter’s request. The list of 30 largest corporate debtors includes investment companies, contractors, developers, banks, trading companies and football clubs. The tax data of individuals are not released due to privacy protection laws.
According to Politis, the majority of these companies have challenged all or part of the calculated tax debt, and tax authorities anticipate that ultimately they will collect far less than the €100.3m owed.
The biggest debtor by far is Blue Ocean Yacht Management Limited, owing €20.6m, followed by contractors Ch. Apostolides Ltd and A. Panayides Contracting Ltd at €18.9m. The former has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, whereas the latter has filed an objection with the tax commissioner.
Third down the list is Ocean Tankers Holdings Public Company Ltd with €7.7m; an objection before the tax commissioner is pending. Next is K&M (Famagusta) Developers and Constructions Ltd with €5.5m; the company has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court challenging the greater part of that amount.
Criminal prosecutions are pending against seven corporations in VAT arrears. These are: Oliveron Investments Ltd (€2.8m), Global Value PLC (€1.9m), W Investments Ltd (€1.7m), Michalis Avraam & Andrew Andronikou (€1.7m), Raquel Ltd (€1.47m), Couvas Carton Industries Ltd (€1.1m), and Kyriacos Papavasiliou (Trading) Ltd (€1m).
The two companies which cannot be traced are MK Digital World (Cyprus) Ltd, owing €1.7m, and Salih Konti Company Ltd which owes €1.3 but whose director is apparently currently residing in the occupied territories in the north.
Also on the list is Wadnic Trading Limited – known for its implication in an ongoing criminal trial concerning a development in Dromolaxia. The company owes €1.34m.
Now-defunct Cyprus Popular Bank Public Co Ltd owes €2.68m, and Bank of Cyprus Public Company Ltd €2.2m. Both have appeals pending before the Supreme Court.
Top division football clubs feature heavily, although these fall under a special scheme involving partial ‘bailouts’ of tax arrears via state grants (for arrears between January 1999 to May 2007) and repayment of tax debts in installments for arrears between June 2007 and December 2013.
Anorthosis football club owes the taxman €2.5m, Omonia Nicosia €1.5m, Ethnikos Achnas €1.3m, Apoel €1.2m and AEK Larnaca €1.13m.
Back in June, parliament was told the state is owed €400m in unpaid VAT. The lion’s share – €156m –was owed by just 242 entities.
According to the finance ministry, as of December 31, 2013 the VAT service is owed €421m. The total number of VAT dodgers was 23,860, of which 242 businesses/persons owe amounts over €100,000 which, added up, came to €156m.
In addition to VAT arrears, the state is owed €525m in unpaid income tax. The Inland Revenue Department merged with the VAT Service in July to form the new Tax Department.
In a bid to improve tax collection – a condition set by Cyprus’ international lenders – new legislation was enacted this year giving the taxman sweeping powers, including the right to seize debtors’ bank accounts as well as immovable assets and prevent debtors from selling or transferring real estate until they settle their dues. The action relates to tax arrears that are considered both final and recoverable.