* Gov't says Vale owes about $15.2 billion in back taxes
* Judgment of case to be made in first half of 2013
* Case relates to Vale's and other companies' foreign profit
BRASILIA, Feb 28 Brazil's Supreme Court will
rule in the first half of this year on whether iron ore miner
Vale must pay an estimated $15.2 billion taxes on
earnings from its operations abroad, the president of the court
said on Thursday.
Vale and other companies represented by the national
industrial association are disputing back charges the government
is seeking on profits earned abroad, which they say would be
tantamount to double taxation.
Other companies affected include state-controlled oil
producer Petrobras and engineering company Odebrecht
The company has avoided having to make any payment so far
because of a court injunction, which says it would only have to
pay the taxes once the case is concluded, if it loses. Vale says
having to pay the taxes would disrupt its investment plans.
"This case, that is already being judged, will conclude this
semester," Joaquim Barbosa, president of Brazil's highest court,
told a gathering of foreign correspondents.
He said the case was not specifically related to Vale but
applied to it and other companies with earnings from foreign
Barbosa said the case had been with the Supreme Court for
about six years and some judges who had voted on it had since
left the court, which had made it more difficult to achieve a
"coherent" judgment. Most of the judges voted and subsequently
retired from the court voted that the taxes should be paid.