Burundi’s telecom giant Econet owes more than $44 million in taxes, accounts risks getting frozen

One of Burundi’s telecommunication company Econet- Leo is on the verge of collapsing after the country’s Revenue Authority (OBR) ordered banks to transfer its funds to the Communications Regulatory Authorities (ARCT) account as payment of tax arrears. 

“This is to pay ECONET LEO’s debt of 88,756,006 572 BIF and $44,344,346 representing the arrears owed by the latter. This request is equivalent to a summation with opposition to the sums, values or income,” a statement read from OBR. 

“In the event that the provision of its accounts is insufficient to cover the amount of this debt, please block the accounts and settle them for the above-mentioned accounts within 5 calendar days,” the OBR statement reads. 

In a statement the Burundi tax man said that If the banks do not comply with the request within five (5) calendar days of receipt of the request, “you will be prosecuted as if you were direct debtors.”

This comes after Burundi president Evariste Ndayishimiye criticized telecom companies for failure to pay their taxes, while it is said that they make huge amount of profits from their businesses.

After the news surfaced on the transferring of money to the ARCT, hundreds of customers withdrew their money from the Econet mobile service also known as Sasai Fintech Burundi due to the uncertainty.

“Sasai Fintech S. A the mobile financial services leader in Burundi operating under the EcoCash brand would like to draw the attention of its valued customers, partners and the general public to information circulating on social media regarding its likely and imminent closure. Information is incorrect, false, malicious and should be ignored,” a statement reads from the Econet-Leo.

This is not the first time a telecom company in Burundi defaulted on its tax dues, in August last year Smart (LACELL) mobile was closed after failing to pay tax arrears. 

ARCT indicated that the Smart telecommunication company failed to pay more than 1.3 billion Burundian francs in tax arrears hence its closure last year. 


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