Jim Ovia Zenith bank boss offers to refund £11m evaded tax

Ovia had reportedly maintained that Zenith Bank Plc was only an end user of the aircraft but wasn't responsible for the acquisition.

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Jim Ovia offers to refund $11m tax play

Zenith bank boss, Jim Ovia

(Vanguard)
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Zenith Bank Plc chairman, Jim Ovia, has offered to refund £10,892,166 tax he allegedly evaded when acquiring two luxury jets.

In a report by Premium Times, the tax refund is the total value-added tax payment the bank chairman allegedly skipped while importing the jets into the European Union.

In his response to the allegations, Ovia had reportedly maintained that Zenith Bank Plc was only an end user of the aircraft but wasn't responsible for the acquisition.

Ovia's lawyer, Clifford Chance responded saying: “In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding, Mr. Ovia has asked us to make clear that no funds of Zenith Bank were used to acquire the aircraft.

“You are aware that professional advice was taken from Ernst & Young LLC at the time of the transaction that VAT was properly recoverable by Oviation Limited. Had the advice been that VAT should not have been recovered in full or in part, we are instructed that the company would not have made the relevant claim.

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“Oviation Limited has no reason to doubt the original advice, but if that advise were ever to change, we are instructed that Oviation limited would repay the relevant VAT. This illustrates the good faith at all times of Mr. Ovia.

The Acquisition

According to the reports, in January 2013, Ovia and Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, acquired a Gulfstream 450 for $33 million and imported it into the Isle of Man before it was leased to Zenith bank.

Ovia through, Oviation Limited registered for VAT in the Isle of Man, and used a deferment account to pay and demand refund of £4,239,178.13 VAT.

In a similar scheme, the bankers acquired a $51 million G550 jet in November 2015, and similarly ended up pocketing £6,652,988.36 in VAT refund.

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