A government agency in Bangladesh has sued Httpool, the sales partner of social media giant Facebook in the country, on charges of dodging Tk 9.3 million in Value Added Tax payment.
The VAT Audit, Intelligence and Investigation Directorate started the case at Dhaka South VAT Commissionerate on Thursday, its Director General Moinul Khan told bdnews24.com.
“The organisation’s activities are mysterious. We couldn’t find their office. The person whose name is on the licence says he is no longer involved with it,” Moinul said.
The directorate was checking whether the company was tied to other financial irregularities.
The VAT directorate agents found that Httpool collected Tk 62.2 million from 31 firms through 198 invoices and charged Tk 9.3 million in VAT, Moinul said.
But it has not submitted VAT return though it is mandatory to submit the returns every month. As a result, the government coffer has not received the VAT charged by the firm in this period.
“As the Facebook agent did not use its address properly and submit monthly return, the Tk 9.3 million government money they have now is at risk. We have filed the case considering the risk, violation of rules on submission of monthly return and for not informing the authorities before going nonexistent,” Moinul said.
According to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, Httpool’s Bangladesh entity is registered under one Hafizur Rahman Khan, son of Mokaddes Khan. The address on the papers is 11th floor, Shah Ali Tower, Karwan Bazar, Dhaka.
The company got VAT registration in May. The registration number is 00284883670203.
But agents of the directorate under the National Board of Revenue found during an inspection that no organisation by the name Httpool exists in the address provided on the papers.
The officials visited another place in Banani after being told that the company had changed address, but they failed to find the office again.
It violated rules by changing address without informing the VAT authorities, Moinul said.
Hafizur told bdnews24.com he had no involvement with Httpool after transferring the shares of the company to a foreign firm.
It was announced in a press release on Jun 22 that Facebook had appointed California-based Httpool as its authorised sales partner in Bangladesh. The release said local businesses and agencies would have the option to pay for their Facebook advertising locally in taka through Httpool.
"Bangladesh is one of the key countries for Facebook in South Asia and it is a priority for us to be closer to the people and businesses here," it quoted Jordi Fornies, the director of emerging markets for APAC at Facebook, as saying, reports bdnews24.com.