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Reuters: Venezuela trims Shell back tax bill to $13 mln

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Venezuela on Friday sharply reduced its demand for back taxes, fines and interest against the local affiliate of major oil company Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) to $13 million, after the company appealed.
The government initially had demanded Shell de Venezuela pay $131 million in back taxes last year, but the company presented more evidence during the appeal process and authorities revised the amount owned.
Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter, has demanded payments from other foreign oil companies after probing taxes paid by the energy sector during 2001 to 2004. The investigation focused on companies that held operating contracts with state oil firm PDVSA signed in the 1990s.
Earlier this month authorities said Venezuela had collected $125.6 million in back taxes out of the initial $651 million demanded from 19 of the 22 petroleum companies that held the oil field operating contracts until last year.
The broad probe into back taxes came after President Hugo Chavez last year ordered the companies with the 32 oil field operating contracts to sign agreements to create joint ventures giving PDVSA a controlling stake in the deals.

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