Modi documentary row: At least 50 IT officers 'survey' BBC's account details; claim agency to be tax offender

Modi documentary row: At least 50 IT officers 'survey' BBC's account details; claim agency to be tax offender

More than 50 I-T officers were part of the ‘financial investigation’ being carried out to detect alleged tax evasion, the diversion of profits and irregularities in transfer pricing. The income-tax authorities were checking account details dating as far back as 2012.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 08:07 AM IST
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At least 50 IT officers 'survey' BBC's accounts; claim agency to be tax offender |

Income tax sleuths swooped down on multiple locations of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) at Delhi and Mumbai on Tuesday as part of the department’s ‘tax evasion investigation’.

The timing of the search operation has resulted in a political ruckus, coming as it does weeks after the BBC released a documentary on PM Narendra Modi, based on his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat and his government's response to the 2002 riots.

IT officers 'surveying' account details dating as far back as 2012

The so-called raids, euphemistically described as a ‘survey,’ will continue at least till Wednesday and the sleuths are expected to carry out an all-night operation at the offices. Sources said the income-tax authorities were checking account details dating as far back as 2012. 

More than 50 I-T officers were part of the ‘financial investigation’ being carried out to detect alleged tax evasion, the diversion of profits and irregularities in transfer pricing. The offices of the BBC have been sealed. The action came amid claims by BBC journalists that their mobiles and laptops had been confiscated.

Employees freed after six hours of search

Employees were allowed to leave six hours after the searches began, only after their laptops had been scanned. Visuals showed some employees arguing with the officers. The officers used the keyword ‘tax’ to search for information on the desktops after asking employees to log in, a BBC journalist told NDTV. In an internal memo to its staff, the BBC asked those not present in office to stay away and to refrain from comments about the searches on social media.

“We needed some clarifications and towards this purpose, our team is visiting BBC offices and we are carrying out a survey. Our officers have gone to check their account books, these are not searches,” income-tax sources asserted.

Tax officials claimed BBC to be a repeat tax offender

Tax sleuths denied any vendetta, insisting that the BBC was a repeat offender. The surveys were conducted owing to deliberate non-compliance with the transfer pricing rules and the vast diversion of profits. “Several notices were issued to the BBC for years. The BBC has been continuously defiant, non-compliant and significantly diverted their profits,” a source said.“

The key focus of these surveys is to look into the manipulation of prices for unauthorised benefits, including tax advantages,” informed a senior tax official. The BBC confirmed the IT raids and said it was fully cooperating. “We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible,” it said.

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