15 Feb 2023

I-T Survey On BBC: BBC Asks Its Staff To Cooperate; US Says We Support Freedom Of Press

New Delhi/Mumbai:  The survey by the Income Tax Department (IT) team at BBC's Delhi and Mumbai offices continues for the second day. According to sources, IT officials are ascertaining the details of the accounts from 2012 till now. 

IT officials have seized mobiles, laptop-desktops of the staff of the Finance Department. There has also been an argument between IT officials and BBC India editors during the survey.

On the other hand, BBC has asked its staff to cooperate by mailing. It was said that they should answer every question honestly. Income Tax Department officials have accused the BBC of irregularities in international tax.

UK govt monitoring the situation 

The UK government is keeping an eye on the situation as the BBC said some of its staff have been asked to remain at their Delhi and Mumbai offices to cooperate during the ongoing survey of the Income Tax authorities.

British government sources said they are 'closely monitoring reports of tax surveys carried out at the offices of the BBC in India.

According to sources, the BBC management has mailed the employees on Wednesday morning. In this, the staff has been instructed to answer every question honestly.

The BBC has told the staff that if the staff of the Income Tax Department want to meet you, then you have to meet them. BBC has also activated a helpline to help the employees working in India.

The mail said that questioning about the BBC's institutional structure, activities, institution and work in India comes under the ambit of scrutiny and such questions can be asked. They should be answered.

Staff have also been told that questions about your personal income and income tax are outside the scope of the survey and you may decline to answer them.

Do not delete any information from your computer system or hide it from the Income Tax authorities.

Operation part of a tax evasion investigation

In New Delhi and Mumbai, Income Tax officials said the operation was part of a tax evasion investigation. The surveys were being carried out to probe issues related to international taxation and transfer pricing of BBC subsidiary companies, and claimed that the broadcaster was served with notices in the past, but was defiant and non-compliant and had significantly diverted its profits.

The United States has said it is aware of the survey operation conducted by the Indian tax authorities at the BBC office in Delhi but is not in a position to offer its judgement.

We support the free press around the world: US

We are aware of the survey of the BBC offices in Delhi by the Indian tax authorities. I would need to refer you to Indian authorities for the details of this search," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.

"We support the free press around the world. We continue to highlight the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief as human rights that contribute to strengthening democracies around the world. It has strengthened this democracy here in this country. It has strengthened India's democracy," Price said.

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