Venezuela hits BP with tax bill

Venezuela has hit UK oil giant BP with a $61.4m (£35m) back tax bill.

The country’s tax authority, the Seniat, said the figure arose from the firm’s operations in the country between 2001 and 2004.

BP confirmed the bill had been given to its BP Venezuela Holdings unit and that it was in talks with tax officials.

Venezuela’s left-wing President Hugo Chavez is demanding foreign oil firms pay more taxes and give up majority control over their Venezuelan ventures.

In the 1990s Venezuela signed 32 operating agreements with private companies at a tax rate of 34%.

But last year Mr Chavez decided the agreements should have set a rate of 50%.

He wants to use the additional revenues to increase social spending in the country.

The move has added to tensions between Venezuela and the US. Relations between the two worsened earlier this year after a tit-for-tat expulsion row over allegations of spying.

At the weekend, Mr Chavez said that America was planning to invade Venezuela, an accusation Washington immediately dismissed.

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