Venezuela moves against Shell in tax probe

By Pascal Fletcher and Matthew Robinson

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela on Thursday ordered Shell to pay nearly $131 million (74 million pounds) in back taxes, and also confiscated financial data from U.S.-based Chevron Corp in a tax crackdown.The actions announced by national tax authority SENIAT against the two foreign oil companies formed part of a campaign by left-wing President Hugo Chavez's government to tighten control over Venezuela's strategic oil sector. Both Shell and Chevron said they were cooperating with SENIAT in the tax probe but Shell said it had "paid all taxes mandated by the law". "Anglo-Dutch Shell was given notification that it should pay 281 billion bolivars (74 million pounds) relating to income tax dues that were not paid in the period 2001-2004," SENIAT said in a statement.