IRB drops winding-up petition against Country Heights unit after tax liability settled

PETALING JAYA: The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) has withdrawn its winding-up petition on a major subsidiary of Country Heights Holdings Bhd after major shareholder Tan Sri Lee Kim Tiong @ Lee Kim Yew settled a RM22.7 million tax liability, including penalties.

The move marks the end of a prolonged dispute between IRB and Country Heights on the tax liabilities at Country Heights Sdn Bhd (CHSB) level, incurred during the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997/98.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said the settlement was made in Lee’s capacity as major shareholder, and not personal.

No mention was made, however, of the RM126 million in fixed deposits that Lee placed with a foreign-owned bank that was seized by the IRB in May 2017.

Lee, who is also executive chairman of Country Heights, had taken the action by the IRB as being done in relation to the tax liability and expressed his willingness for the IRB to extract the sum due from CHSB, from the deposits. At that point, the IRB had not given confirmation on whether the seized funds had been, or would be, applied to settle the tax liability.

As at June 22, 2017, Country Heights independent non-executive director Nik Hassan Nik Mohd Amin said IRB was yet to confirm that the seizure was to do with the tax liability at CHSB level.

Despite the lack of confirmation, the board of Country Heights agreed to pay Lee the amount forwarded to IRB, at no interest, once it had the funds to do so. The group, which registered a net loss of RM7.8 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2017, only had RM5.2 million in cash then.