On­line store faces tax eva­sion probe

Kyiv Post - - Business - BY MARK RACHKEVYCH

Tax po­lice on April 19 opened a $900,000 tax eva­sion case against the di­rec­tor of a lead­ing on­line store and tem­po­rary blocked its web­site from con­duct­ing busi­ness that day be­fore the com­pany switched to a Ger­man host provider.

Tax au­thor­i­ties al­lege that Rozetka. ua em­ployed a clas­sic fake in­voice scheme in which goods were im­ported at re­duced prices and then con­cealed the prof­its via fic­ti­tious com­pa­nies. Au­thor­i­ties said they searched three com­pany of­fices and three ware­houses dur­ing the op­er­a­tion.

Since 2011, both sides have been in a le­gal dis­pute over the le­gal­ity of a May 2011 doc­u­ment check of Rozetka.

An April 21 Rozetka state­ment on its Face­book page said the e-shop was run­ning but not at full ca­pac­ity. Also on April 21, tax of­fi­cials an­nounced that Rozetka top man­agers had agreed to pay the al­leged debt to the state in ex­change for be­ing ab­solved of crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity.

Rozetka’s di­rec­tor, who au­thor­i­ties wouldn’t name, faces up to 10 years in prison un­der the crim­i­nal charge.

“Now the lead­er­ship of the com­pany agreed to re­fund dam­age caused to the state, and un­der part four of Ar­ti­cle 212 of the Crim­i­nal Code of Ukraine, the in­fringers will be re­leased from crim­i­nal pun­ish­ment,” read the tax ser­vice press re­lease.

How­ever, Rozetka co-owner and com­pany ex­ec­u­tive Vladislav Che­chotkin told on­line IT news por­tal ain.ua that he wasn’t aware of the al­leged agree­ment.

The Kyiv Post has been un­able to reach Rozetka com­pany of­fi­cials via phone calls and e-mailed mes­sages. An April 24 me­dia in­quiry to tax au­thor­i­ties also went unan­swered by the time the Kyiv Post went to press.

In an April 20 state­ment re­leased by Che­chotkin on Rozetka’s Face­book page, the com­pany co-owner sar­cas­ti­cally ac­cused au­thor­i­ties of form­ing a sep­a­rate depart­ment to “fight ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.”

Che­chotkin fur­ther­more stated that more than 10 tax of­fi­cials in Hum­mer sports util­ity ve­hi­cles stormed host com­pany Miro­host in search of Rozetka’s server. He added that five ad­di­tional “bri­gades” stopped more than 20 com­pa­nies from con­duct­ing busi­ness and that a to­tal of 150 tax agents took part in the April 19 raids.

The Rozetka com­pany of­fi­cial said that 24 com­pa­nies and 3,000 em­ploy­ees were af­fected.

Che­chotkin also in the state­ment spec­u­lated that it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore he will be forced to leave the coun­try.

An ex­ec­u­tive at a com­pany that does busi­ness with Rozetka, said he was dis­turbed by the events.

“I don't think the tax of­fi­cials should've be­haved this way by dis­rupt­ing Rozetka's busi­ness and harm­ing its rep­u­ta­tion," said Yuri Derevko, fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor of Leas­ing In­for­ma­tion Tech­nolo­gies. "And if there is an on­go­ing le­gal stand­off be­tween the two then why storm their premises this way? To an out­sider this looks like a raider at­tack on the com­pany."

Just days later chief tax

col­lec­tor Olek­sandr Kly­menko an­nounced on April 23 that his agency had suc­cess­fully com­pleted a “restyling” of the meth­ods it uses to fight the un­der­ground econ­omy.

“First quar­ter re­sults show that tax col­lec­tion grew by Hr 7.4 bil­lion over the same pe­riod as in 2011,” said Kly­menko. “Our weapons are (our) in­tel­lects and analy­ses, and not mus­cle and fists.”

Kly­menko em­pha­sized that to meet the state rev­enue tar­get in­crease of Hr 33.3 bil­lion set by par­lia­ment this year, the gray econ­omy money must be un­cloaked.

“In the fu­ture we must em­ploy the full range of in­flu­ence over dis­hon­est (tax) pay­ers in or­der to en­sure that tax­a­tion ad­e­quately ac­com­pa­nies eco­nomic growth,” said Kly­menko in a press re­lease.

The press re­lease said that in Fe­bru­ary 2011 be­fore an au­to­mated sys­tem for iden­ti­fy­ing shadow eco­nomic play­ers was in­stalled that “at-risk” (dis­hon­est) tax­pay­ers paid Hr 1.3 bil­lion into the bud­get whereas in March 2012, they had paid Hr 2.9 bil­lion.

Trade turnover in the na­tion’s e-com­merce mar­ket is es­ti­mated at $1-$1.5 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Derevko, whose com­pany Leas­ing In­for­ma­tion Tech­nolo­gies, does busi­ness with Rozetka. Tax au­thor­i­ties es­ti­mate that the seg­ment will reach nearly $2 bil­lion soon.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­searcher GFKUkraine, 9 per­cent of In­ter­net users in the na­tion pur­chased some­thing on­line in the past year. In an­other study con­ducted by Pol­ish mar­ket re­searcher Gemius in 2011, Rozetka was named the most widely known e-store.

Kyiv Post staff writer Mark Rachkevych can be reached at [email protected] com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ukraine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.