High Court rules MIRA has authority to confiscate documents

The High Court has ruled that the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has the authority to seize documents during investigations of tax evasion or fraud carried out under an order by the tax appeal tribunal.

The High Court on Thursday (August 21) overturned a Civil Court ruling to the contrary in a case lodged by a company called Treasure Biz International Pvt Ltd after MIRA sent in auditors and confiscated documents from the company’s offices in December 2012.

The Civil Court in May 2013 ordered MIRA to hand over the documents and electronic equipment to the company within seven days.

A three-judge High Court panel, however, ruled (Dhivehi) that taxation laws empower MIRA officers enforcing a search order by the tax appeal tribunal to confiscate relevant documents or financial records. A specific order would not be required for seizing documents, the judges noted.

In May this year, Fuad Zahir, managing director of Treasure Biz, set up a trade union to advocate for the rights of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

MIRA has meanwhile filed tax evasion charges against Treasure Biz.