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Sweden's tax man goes after former owners


Sweden's tax man goes after former owners

Judging by reports on Sveriges Radio and several Swedish poker information websites today (Monday) it looks as if the former owners of the online poker operation may be in for a rough ride, with the Skatteverket (tax authorities) claiming a massive SEK40 million (Euro 4.5 million) in unpaid taxes.

The reports indicate that the claim is but one facet of a major and continuing official investigation into online gaming in Sweden which has seen several major companies with interests in the Scandinavian country being asked to provide information (see previous InfoPowa reports).

One of the veteran Swedish poker sites, Multipoker achieved high profile status by sponsoring projects like the regional "Big Brother" reality television series. It was owned by a British Virgin Islands registered company called EPR Investments prior to its sale to Party Gaming - the London listed online gambling group - in late 2005 for $14.5 million. However, it should be noted that the tax claim is in connection with Multipoker activities prior to the sale to Party Gaming, which will therefore not be impacted.

Swedish enforcement and tax authorities are justifying their action against EPR by claiming that the registration in the BVI was a front to evade tax and legal liability, and that the principals and operational control was exercised from Sweden. The principals of EPR were apparently arrested some months ago, although the reports are not clear on whether the individuals concerned are now out on bail or not.

The claim takes the form of allegations of non-declaration to Swedish authorities of revenues through Multipoker, and accusations that the purchase price paid by Party Gaming ended up in Swiss bank accounts - without being declared to Swedish tax officials.

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