Seniat: Total Unit Owes US$18.8mn

The Venezuelan subsidiary of French oil major Total (NYSE:TOT) owes Venezuela's tax office Seniat 38.3bn bolivares (US$18.8mn) through having exaggerated its 2001 losses, Seniat officials told BNamericas.

Total Venezuela maintains it lost over 50bn bolivares in 2001, while Seniat claims the losses were only 12bn bolivares.

"The difference is what they owe us," an official from Seniat's hydrocarbons division said.

Speaking off the record, an official from Total Oil and Gas told BNamericas the Seniat claim is "baseless."

Total has two subsidiaries in Venezuela; Total Oil and Gas, and Total Venezuela. It also has a 47% stake in the Sincor extra-heavy crude upgrader.

Seniat had already slapped Total with a 262bn-bolívar tax claim, of which Total says its has paid 180bn bolivares through April 12. Seniat's latest claim comes only a day after an onsite inspection of Total offices, which is next to no time for calculating an US$18.8mn tax demand, the Total source said.

Total Oil and Gas refused on March 31 to enter into a partnership dominated by state oil company PDVSA to operate the Jusepin field, but the company has reportedly kept on negotiating an amicable solution with Venezuela's government.

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