Venezuela’s tax agency reportedly has imposed fines and ordered the temporary closure of several foreign companies, including International Business Machines (IBM) and a Bosch affiliate, due to tax irregularities and said car maker Honda was among a number of firms that would face closures for 28 to 48 hours, plus fines.


According to The Associated Press (AP), the Seniat agency said in a statement it had ordered the 48-hour shutdown of IBM’s office in Caracas, as well as auto parts company Bosch Rexroth, for bookkeeping irregularities related to the value added tax (VAT).


The news agency said Microsoft Corp., Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens and Colombina SA would, along with Honda, face closures and fines though the reasons for punitive actions against these companies were unclear and company officials could not be contacted to comment when it filed its report on Wednesday.


AP noted that Seniat officials have pursued an aggressive “zero evasion” campaign that has helped the government of president Hugo Chavez reach new tax collection records.


The president has said that all companies must pay their taxes, particularly foreign ones that pay taxes in their home countries but often skip what they owe in Venezuela, the report added.


The Associated Press said, under Chavez, the Seniat has told foreign oil companies they owe more than $3 billion in unpaid taxes going back several years, and the government has said oil companies won’t be able to continue operating in the country if they refuse to pay those claims.