Freezing of bank accounts amounts to harassment, says Chinese firm ByteDance

2 weeks ago 9

ByteDance has told an Indian tribunal that a authorities frost connected its slope accounts successful a probe of imaginable taxation evasion amounts to harassment and was done illegally, according to a filing seen by Reuters.

ByteDance successful January reduced its Indian workforce aft New Delhi maintained a prohibition connected its fashionable video app TikTok, imposed past twelvemonth aft a borderline clash betwixt India and China. Beijing has repeatedly criticised India implicit that prohibition and those of different Chinese apps.

An Indian taxation quality portion successful mid-March ordered HSBC and Citibank successful Mumbai to frost slope accounts of ByteDance India arsenic it probed immoderate of the unit`s fiscal dealings. ByteDance has challenged the frost connected the 4 accounts successful a Mumbai court.

None of ByteDance India`s employees person been paid their March salaries owed to the relationship freeze, said 2 radical acquainted with the matter. The institution told the tribunal it has a workforce of 1,335, including outsourced personnel.

In the 209-page tribunal filing lodged connected March 25, ByteDance told the High Court successful Mumbai the authorities acted against the institution without immoderate worldly grounds and gave nary anterior notice, arsenic required by Indian law, earlier specified "drastic action".

Blocking accounts "during the process of probe amounts (to) applying undue coercion," ByteDance argued. It is "intended, improperly, to harass the petitioner."

India`s Directorate General of Goods & Services Tax Intelligence, and the concern ministry which oversees it, did not instantly respond to requests for remark implicit the weekend.

The details of the taxation probe person not antecedently been reported. The taxation bureau told ByteDance past twelvemonth it had reasons to judge the institution suppressed definite transactions and claimed excessive taxation credits, the filing shows.

ByteDance declined to remark connected its tribunal filing but told Reuters connected Tuesday it disagrees with the determination of the taxation authority. HSBC declined to comment, portion Citibank did not respond.

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The tribunal declined to assistance ByteDance contiguous alleviation successful a little proceeding connected Wednesday. The adjacent proceeding is scheduled for Tuesday.

The probe centres connected imaginable evasion of taxes related to online advertizing and different fiscal dealings betwixt ByteDance India and its genitor entity successful Singapore, TikTok Pte Ltd. TikTok did not respond to an email seeking comment.

ByteDance told the tribunal its India workforce includes 800 radical moving successful its "trust and safety" squad that supports activities similar contented moderation overseas.

The institution has "robust concern plans successful India and is not contemplating winding up," it said, urging the tribunal to assistance the frost connected the accounts.

The taxation bureau started investigating the institution successful July. It inspected documents astatine the company`s bureau and summoned and questioned astatine slightest 3 executives, the filing says. Authorities besides asked ByteDance to taxable documents, including invoices and agreements signed with immoderate clients.

ByteDance representatives "appeared aggregate times" earlier taxation officers and provided documents, the filing says.

TikTok, 1 of India`s astir fashionable video apps earlier it was banned, has faced scrutiny astir the world.

Under then-President Donald Trump, the United States alleged the app posed nationalist information concerns. The caller medication of Joe Biden has paused a authorities suit that could person resulted successful a de facto prohibition connected TikTok`s usage there.

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