Tax inspectors have raided nationwide offices of Armenia’s Russian-owned national power distribution company after the State Revenue Committee (SRC) accused it of evading about 2 billion drams ($5.3 million) in taxes.
The Electricity Networks of Armenia (ENA) utility has denied the accusations and condemned the searches conducted by SRC officials at its territorial divisions across the country on Wednesday.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the ENA said the searches and the resulting confiscation of some of its financial documents resulted in a “partial loss of manageability” of the electricity distribution network. It condemned the SRC actions as illegal and warned of “substantial negative impact on the work of the system.”
The SRC refused to elaborate on its fraud allegations. A spokesman for the tax collection service said any information released at this point would compromise the “objectivity” of the probe conducted by its Investigative Department.
“The SRC and our company have differing views on the payment of taxes,” ENA spokeswoman Natalia Sarjanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). She insisted that the company has never underreported its earnings.
According to the SRC, the ENA paid about 5 billion drams in various taxes in the first half of this year, making it Armenia’s fifth largest corporate taxpayer. The figure also represents a more than 50 percent increase over the year-earlier period.
It is not yet clear if the ENA will take the SRC to court. “I can’t say anything about that right now,” said Sarjanian. “Time will tell.”
The power utility has become increasingly profitable in recent years despite a sizable reduction in domestic electricity production shown by official statistics. It posted 25.1 billion drams in profits in 2010, up from 16.7 billion drams in 2009 and 11 billion drams in 2008.
The figures indicate a remarkable turnaround in the ENA’s operations. The power grids incurred significant financial losses, estimated at $50 million each year, before being sold by the Armenian government to a British-registered firm in 2002. They were purchased by a subsidiary of Russia’s RAO Unified Energy Systems (UES) power giant in 2004.