March 6, 2013 / 3:01 PM / 5 years ago

Egypt's OCI to discuss tax claim with authorities on Sunday

CAIRO, March 6 (Reuters) - Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), Egypt’s biggest listed company, said on Wednesday it will meet government authorities next week to discuss charges it evaded taxes.

Egyptian authorities have barred the builder and fertiliser maker’s chief executive officer, Nassef Sawiris, and his father from leaving the country as part of a tax probe.

Sources close to the family contacted by Reuters say the two are out of the country.

They would be detained by the public prosecutor on their return to Egypt.

The investigation is into charges the company failed to pay some 14 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.1 billion) of taxes on the sale of Orascom Building, an OCI subsidiary, to French firm Lafarge, state media said.

The firm said on Wednesday it had received notice from tax authorities about a claim and had made an appointment for Sunday “to discuss the tax issue raised by the authority.”

The statement did not specify the figure the authorities were claiming. On Monday the firm said it had received a demand for 4.7 billion pounds, which it was appealing, but had not received notification of further claims.

OCI is separately finalising a deal that might lead to it leaving the Egyptian stock market, against the government’s wishes.

Dutch-listed parent company OCI NV announced an acquisition deal in January under which holders of OCI’s GDRs were offered shares in OCI NV, while holders of the firm’s Egypt-listed ordinary shares got the option of cash or OCI NV shares.

The company’s board approved the deal in February, but Egypt’s financial regulator delayed its completion, requesting more information. ($1 = 6.7441 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by David Cowell)

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