Meghna Group, a company that earned a bad reputation for river bank grabbing, market monopoly and money laundering, has dodged taxes worth Tk 18,000 crore.As many as 1,500 cases filed by different concerns of Meghna Group are pending with various tribunals and the apex court, sources said.
The company has filed the cases since 2001 to turn the government’s tax claims into a sub judice matters and ultimately block collection of the taxes.Meghna Group has created a record by filing a barrage of cases against the government, putting real tax-paying companies at an uneven competition. Realization of taxes worth thousands of crore hangs in balance due to the pending cases, sources said.
National Board of Revenue (NBR) could not realise around Tk 6,542 crore in revenue because of 16,372 unresolved cases, shows a data updated till March.
NBR is facing difficulties in meeting the tax collection target due to the pending cases.
In such a situation, the multiplicity of cases by Meghna Group is seen as a major barrier to the government’s tax collection and budget implementation.
Apart from filing cases, the company also plays various tricks to delay the hearing and seeks adjournment with an ulterior motive to evade tax.
Meghna Group’s concerns Tanveer Food Ltd, Tanveer Steel Mills Ltd, Unique Cement Industries Ltd, United Sugar Mills Ltd, United Edible Oil Mills Ltd, Tanveer Oils Ltd, Janata Flour and Dal Mills Ltd, United Fibre Industries Ltd, Tanveer Polymer Industries Ltd, Tasnim Condensed Milk Ltd, Tanveer Paper Mills Ltd, Tasnim Chemical Complex Ltd,Unique Power Plant Ltd, and Sonargaon Salt Industries Ltd filed the cases.Legal experts said any company may file petitions with the NBR or the High Court in case of any tax dispute. The High Court may entertain the petition or reject it. Sometimes, HC may reject a petition and send it to NBR for decision by taxes appellate tribunals.
In such situations, a company has to pay 10 per cent of the claimed amount of tax to get its petition heard and settled by the taxes tribunal. If any company is aggrieved with the judgment of any tribunal, it can move to the HC again challenging the decision.
Many companies resort to lawsuits with an ill motive to evade tax as determination of such cases is a long-drawn procedure, said the legal experts.
Former Appellate Division Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik said the courts are bogged down with backlog of cases. A section of businesses is filing new cases and delaying the hearing to dodge tax.
He said the Attorney General should take steps to expedite disposal of the tax-related petitions.
Talking to the daily sun, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said “We are trying to expedite the disposal of the cases. The tax dodgers play many tricks to delay the hearing of their litigations.”
The tax-dodgers are causing harm to the genuine entrepreneurs and hampering the government’s development projects, he said.
Terming tax-dodging more serious than murder, the top law officer said the dodgers are jeopardizing the national economy.