NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Finance Ministry accused the BBC of tax evasion on Friday, saying that it had not totally declared its earnings and income from its operations within the nation.
Indian tax authorities ended three days of searches of the British broadcaster’s New Delhi and Mumbai workplaces on Thursday evening. Opposition political events and different media organizations have criticized the searches as an try and intimidate the media.
Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have additionally questioned the timing of the searches, which got here weeks after the BBC aired a documentary within the U.Okay. that was important of Modi.
“The division gathered a number of evidences pertaining to the operation of the group which point out that tax has not been paid on sure remittances which haven’t been disclosed as earnings in India by the overseas entities of the group,” the Central Board of Direct Taxes mentioned in an announcement.
It mentioned they discovered “a number of discrepancies and inconsistencies“ and had gathered “essential proof” from statements of staff, digital proof and paperwork which might be examined extra totally later.
The assertion additionally accused the BBC of not paying full taxes on the earnings of staff who got here from overseas and labored in India for brief durations.
The BBC mentioned in an announcement that it will “reply appropriately to any direct formal communication acquired from the Revenue Tax Division.”
“We’re supporting workers -– a few of whom have confronted prolonged questioning or been required to remain in a single day -– and their welfare is our precedence. Our output is again to regular and we stay dedicated to serving our audiences in India and past,” it mentioned.
The Press Belief of India information company cited unidentified officers as saying on Thursday that investigators collected monetary knowledge from choose BBC staffers and made copies of digital and paper knowledge from the information group.
It mentioned the authorities have been investigating points associated to worldwide taxation and switch pricing of BBC subsidiary firms.
The chief of India’s major opposition Congress get together, Mallikarjun Kharge, described the search of the BBC workplaces as an assault on freedom of the press below Modi’s authorities.
Reporters With out Borders, a world media watchdog, denounced the federal government’s motion as “makes an attempt to clamp down on impartial media.”
“These raids have all the looks of a reprisal in opposition to the BBC for releasing a documentary important of Prime Minister Narendra Modi three weeks in the past. They’ve come at a time when impartial media are being hounded increasingly, and when pluralism is shrinking in India attributable to elevated media focus,” the group mentioned in an announcement on Thursday.
The documentary, “India: The Modi Query,” was broadcast within the U.Okay. final month, analyzing the prime minister’s position in 2002 anti-Muslim riots within the western state of Gujarat, the place he was chief minister on the time. Greater than 1,000 individuals have been killed within the violence.
Modi has denied allegations that authorities below his watch allowed and even inspired the bloodshed, and the Supreme Courtroom mentioned it discovered no proof to prosecute him. Final yr, the court docket dismissed a petition filed by a Muslim sufferer questioning Modi’s exoneration.
This system drew a direct backlash from India’s authorities, which invoked emergency powers below its info know-how legal guidelines to dam it from being proven within the nation. Native authorities scrambled to cease screenings organized at Indian universities, and social media platforms together with Twitter and YouTube complied with authorities requests to take away hyperlinks to the documentary.
The BBC mentioned on the time that the documentary was “rigorously researched” and concerned a variety of voices and opinions.
“We provided the Indian Authorities a proper to answer to the issues raised within the collection — it declined to reply,” it mentioned.
India’s International Ministry referred to as the documentary a “propaganda piece designed to push a very discredited narrative” that lacked objectivity.
Related Press author Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.