Alleged account manipulation: Firm sues First Bank, FIRS, demands N25bn in damages


An indigenous company, Biatemp Ventures Ltd., has sued First Bank of Nigeria and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), demanding N25 billion for special and general damages over alleged manipulation of its domiciliary account and illegal withholding of its tax clearance certificate.

In the suit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, the company is also seeking the sum of N25 billion for special and general damages arising from the alleged manipulation of the account, business losses due to its withheld tax clearance and embarrassment suffered.

In the suit filed on behalf of the plaintiff by Adegboyega Awomolo chamber, the company alleged that First Bank manipulated its domiciliary account with a purported turnover of $6.8 million (about N2.4 billion) leading to the withholding of its 2018 tax clearance by FIRS.

The plaintiff said the alleged manipulation of the account was discovered by FIRS intelligence findings when it filed its 2018 tax return forms and awaiting issuance of its tax clearance certificate. The plaintiff stated that rather than issuing the certificate, FIRS accused the company of grossly understating its income.

Specifically, the federal revenue collection agency said its intelligence unit discovered that the company had a turnover of over $6.8 million in its corporate account, which was withdrawn by its Chief Executive Officer in about four respective transactions.

FIRS, therefore, requested the company to pay a revised tax liability of about $439,000 before the tax clearance could be issued.

The plaintiff said it was shocked with the discovery by FIRS because the company never transacted, deposited and withdrew amount of that magnitude in its domiciliary account within the period. It said the deposit made to its domiciliary account within the period was only $22,475 being consultancy fee paid by its client, Forte Upstream Services Ltd.