THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The New York Times
October 12, 2008
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Venezuelan government ordered nearly all McDonald’s restaurants in the country closed for two days last week for what it called irregularities in the chain’s financial books.
The government’s tax agency said Friday that it had ordered more than 100 McDonald’s restaurants to shut temporarily. José David Cabello, the agency’s chief, announced on state television that “inconsistencies” had been found in sales and purchases books, as well as in taxes collected.
Of the 132 McDonald’s restaurants in Venezuela, 118 were closed, including all 80 of the outlets run by Alimentos Arcos Dorados de Venezuela, a Caracas-based franchise.
Arcos Dorados — “golden arches” in Spanish — said it had obeyed Venezuelan laws and regulations.
Under President Hugo Chávez, the tax agency has carried out inspections of companies and frequently punished those that it says are not complying with its rules. Domestic and foreign businesses are regularly affected.
The agency took a similar action against McDonald’s three years ago, ordering a three-day closing of 80 restaurants as a penalty for what it said was a failure to follow tax rules.
Last year, the Venezuelan subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company was also shut for 48 hours, and last month, the offices of Pepsi were ordered shut for the same period.