The distributor is pulling out of the Swedish market after 45 years
Brightstar has confirmed that its UK business remains unaffected despite its decision to pull out of the Swedish market following a bitter tax dispute.
The distributor announced its intention to formally withdraw from Sweden after 45 years in the region, after being accused of a tax scam by the Swedish Tax Agency (STA).
In a statement, Brightstar Corp CEO Rod Millar said the company has lost trust in the Swedish authorities and courts, citing “unfair and discriminatory” treatment.
The STA is seeking a $35 million VAT payment from Brightstar. This stems from Brightstar’s dealings with a supplier that was working with another supplier that hadn’t paid all of its tax to the authorities.
Brightstar has denied any involvement with regard to tax fraud and insisted it has always paid VAT to the authorities. However, the STA has alleged that Brightstar “was aware or should have been aware of a tax scam perpetrated by another company”.
In Sweden, it is common to pay fines before cases are heard, although Brightstar had initially agreed for the payment to be deferred until after court proceedings after being awarded a right to appeal.
However, the Swedish courts performed a U-turn on this after speaking to the STA again, and disallowed Brightstar’s VAT reclaim.
In a statement, Millar said: “We have not taken this decision lightly, but we feel we have no alternative following the discriminatory treatment that Brightstar has suffered at the hands of the Swedish authorities.
“Brightstar has done nothing wrong and has acted in good faith throughout.
“As a result, we feel that we cannot conduct business in Sweden as we do not trust receiving a fair treatment by the authorities and courts, despite a successful track record in the country for almost half a century.”
Brightstar intends to wind down its operations in Sweden in the coming weeks, but does expect to still operate in other Nordic markets.
Millar added: “Brightstar Sweden will do what it can to protect creditors, suppliers, customers and employees, whilst at the same time the decisions will be appealed in the Swedish Courts. Brightstar’s global operations will be unaffected by this move and for them it is business as usual.”