MAC/20: Mines and Communities

VENEZUELA

Published by MAC on 2006-10-25

VENEZUELA

Caracas probes Crystallex for possible tax bill

25th October 2006

CARACAS, Venezuela, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Venezuela's Seniat tax agency said on Wednesday it was reviewing the activities of Crystallex International Corp since 2001 to determine whether the Canadian miner owed Caracas money.

The Seniat tax agency last year began serving back tax claims to foreign and private companies operating in Venezuela as part of a campaign to increase government revenues.

President Hugo Chavez has particularly targeted earnings from firms exploiting Venezuelan natural resources. "We are investigating Crystallex in case they have tax expenses," Seniat chief Jose Vielma told reporters.

Crystallex is waiting for an environmental permit to start work on the giant Las Cristinas gold mine.

Vielma added that Hecla, the biggest gold producer in Venezuela, had paid $558,140 in back tax but did not specify what period this charge related to.

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