See you in court

Norwegian shipowner Siem Offshore is ready to challenge a fine over alleged tax violations in court.

It said it refused to accept a NOK 10m ($1.63m) penalty, plus a claim for NOK 2.5m in saved taxes, levied by Norways’s economic crime agency Okokrim.

“The company disputes Okokrim's findings and finds them unjustified, particularly in relation to the claim that the company has wilfully sought to defraud tax,” it said.

It has refused to pay and Okokrim must now decide whether to take it to court.

The fine relates to a failure to deliver a Norwegian tax return for the tax years 2005 to 2007 and ticking the wrong box in the tax return for 2008 in relation to exit taxation following a renegotiated contract structure for the company's vessels operating on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Siem said the first accusation relates to a misunderstanding by it and its advisors relating to some Norwegian-operating ships.

When it was notified about the issue in 2008, it filed the return and paid outstanding tax and interest.

Siem admitted it should have entered the ships in the normal tonnage tax regime, leaving it with no tax bill. Instead it paid NOK 75m.

“The company therefore cannot accept that this failure to deliver tax returns can be perceived as a scheme to criminally defraud taxation," it said.

Turning to the second charge, it said ticking the wrong box also cannot be seen as a wilful or grossly negligent act.