ByteDance says India's freeze on bank accounts is harassment

ByteDance says India’s freeze on bank accounts is harassment

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Mumbai: According to a document seen by Reuters, China’s ByteDance has told the Indian courts that the government’s freezing of its bank accounts to investigate possible tax evasion constitutes harassment and is illegal.

After New Delhi maintained a ban on its popular video app TikTok, ByteDance reduced India’s workforce in January this year. The ban was implemented last year after a border conflict between India and China. Beijing has repeatedly criticized India for the ban and other Chinese app bans.

In mid-March, the Indian tax intelligence agency ordered HSBC and Citibank in Mumbai to freeze the bank accounts of ByteDance India because the agency conducted an investigation into some of the department’s financial transactions. ByteDance has challenged the freezing of four accounts in a Mumbai court.

Two people familiar with the matter said that none of the employees of ByteDance India received their March salary due to account freezes. The company told the court that it has 1,335 employees, including outsourced personnel.

In a 209-page court document filed on March 25, ByteDance told the Mumbai High Court that the authorities took action against the company without any significant evidence before taking any “serious action” and did not give it as required by Indian law. notice in advance.

ByteDance argued that “the account was frozen during the investigation to impose undue duress”. This is “improper intent to harass the petitioner”.

The General Administration of Goods and Services Tax Information and the Ministry of Finance, which oversees it, did not immediately respond to requests for comment over the weekend.

The details of the tax investigation have not been previously reported. The document shows that the tax agency told ByteDance last year that it has reason to believe that the company suppressed certain transactions and claimed excessive tax credits.

ByteDance declined to comment on its court documents, but told Reuters on Tuesday that it did not agree with the tax authorities’ decision. HSBC declined to comment, while Citibank did not respond.

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