March 4, 2014 / 1:56 PM / 4 years ago

Orascom acquitted of Egyptian tax evasion claims

AMSTERDAM, March 4 (Reuters) - Orascom Construction has been cleared by an Egyptian public prosecutor of all tax evasion claims related to the sale of a building seven years ago to French peer Lafarge in Egypt, Orascom’s Dutch parent OCI said on Tuesday.

Orascom, a subsidiary of chemicals and engineering company OCI, asked the prosecutor to clear the company’s name following a tax dispute with the Egyptian government.

The move came despite a settlement deal with the Egyptian authorities in April last year in which Orascom agreed to pay 7.1 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.02 billion) in instalments without admitting wrongdoing.

After a four-month investigation, the prosecutor exonerated Orascom of any wrongdoing and all tax evasion claims last month, OCI said in a statement.

An Orascom official said the company, which suspended the payment of the second instalment of its settlement, was now considering its next step.

“The company is evaluating all its options,” he said.

The official said a freeze on some “insignificant” Orascom bank accounts in Egypt imposed by the country’s tax authorities after it delayed the second payment was lifted automatically following the prosecutor’s ruling. ($1 = 6.9606 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee)

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