Income tax authorities seize RM126 million from Country Heights boss

Lee-Kim-Yew-lhdnPETALING JAYA: The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) has seized RM126 million from Country Heights Holdings Bhd (CHHB) executive chairman and major shareholder Lee Kim Yew.

It is believed that the money, which Lee had placed as a fixed deposit in a foreign-owned bank, had been seized in connection with RM22.5 million worth of tax liabilities incurred by Country Heights’ wholly-owned unit, Country Heights Sdn Bhd (CHSB), for the years of assessment 1997 and 1998.

According to a report in The Star, CHHB had informed Bursa Malaysia that it had received notification of the seizure of money from Lee in a letter dated May 8.

The filing with Bursa Malaysia said: “Tan Sri Lee further informed that he has requested a confirmation from the IRB of the seizure, and whether the seized funds have been or will be applied to settle the tax liability, but the IRB has yet to respond.

“Notwithstanding the absence of acknowledgement from the IRB, Tan Sri Lee has informed that he is agreeable to allow his fixed deposits seized by the IRB to be used to settle the tax liability, provided that the company acknowledges the sum used to settle the tax liability as an amount due and owing to Tan Sri Lee, and that the company undertakes to settle the amount as soon as the company has sufficient funds to do so.”

The filing said Country Heights’ board of directors, who held a meeting yesterday, had agreed to this. Lee has agreed that the sum will be non-interest bearing.

The Star reported that on April 17, CHSB had been served with a winding-up petition initiated by the government in relation to a judgment sum of RM22.71 million.

This amount, it said, was for a claim in relation to CHSB’s purported tax obligations, along with interest and costs.

The Edge reported that in an announcement last month, Country Heights had said the finance ministry had accepted a cash settlement proposal from CHSB in January, but that the IRB had declined and counter-proposed a settlement.

Though CHSB agreed to the terms of the counter-proposal, the report said, the IRB rejected it and suggested, on April 6, that the sum be settled via cash payment within four months.

Although CHSB had agreed to this, too, it was slapped with a winding-up petition from the government in mid-April.

The Edge reported that last December, Lee had loaned Country Heights RM10.76 million, interest-free, to settle tax liabilities of three of the group’s subsidiaries in a lump-sum payment to the IRB.

It said Country Heights, which slipped into the red since financial year ending Dec 31, 2015, saw its cash pile shrink to RM12.87 million in end-2016, from RM20.81 million a year ago.