Petrobras faces $2.4 bln decade-old tax debt after court ruling

Mon Nov 5, 2012 9:23am EST

* Tax debt related to lease of offshore platforms

* Judge quashes injunction allowing payment delay

* Petrobras leased platforms in lower-tax countries

* Alleged debt from 1999-2002, already provisioned

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 5 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-led oil company Petrobras may have to pay a 4.78 billion real ($2.35 billion), decade-old tax claim related to the lease of foreign offshore oil platforms after a judge ruled against the company, Petrobras said on Monday.

Brazilian federal judge in Rio de Janeiro quashed an injunction won by Petrobras in March allowing it to avoid payment until a court challenge of the tax ruling was resolved, Petrobras said in a filing with Brazilian securities regulators.

Brazil's authorities are seeking taxes allegedly owed on payments to foreign companies between 1999 and 2002, Petrobras said. The payments to lease offshore oil platforms were made in countries where taxation of platforms is lower than in Brazil.

Petrobras, miner Vale SA, and other Brazilian multinationals have been fighting what they consider to be double taxation of their activities by Brazilian authorities. Officials allege that some companies improperly move business offshore to avoid taxes in Brazil.

Petrobras has included provisions for the payment related to the latest judicial ruling in its accounts for years, the company said in the statement. It also said it is considering options for an appeal.

Petrobras leases many of its oil-production platforms, ships and drilling rigs from its own Netherlands-based shipping subsidiary as well as from other foreign companies it does not own, such as Transocean Ltd..

Petrobras shares gained 0.1 percent to 20.87 reais Monday morning on the BM&FBovespa exchange in Sao Paulo.

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