Orascom Telecom’s Algerian unit, which offers GSM mobile services under the Djezzy GSM banner, has paid USD113 million to the country’s tax authority, Reuters reports. It is understood that Orascom has claimed that payment represents the last of the principal that the Algerian authorities had claimed the Egyptian parent owed in back taxes for the 2005-07 period. In addition, Orascom has claimed that a further USD25 penalty has been suspended pending a final court ruling. The latest payment by the Egyptian telecoms group means that it has now paid approximately USD597 million in principal, plus a further USD45 million in penalties.
Orascom however has maintained that Djezzy was tax-exempt for the period in question, and has argued that the tax bill is based on unfounded allegations of improper account keeping for the two-year period. It has said that it may yet still recover the full amount if its appeal against the bill is successful.