UK raises BBC search issue with Jaishankar, told broadcaster ‘must comply’

British Foreign Minister (Foreign Secretary) James Cleverly during a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised the issue of the tax searches on the BBC.
In reply, Jaishankar firmly told his UK counterpart that all entities operating in India must comply with the law of the land. “The EAM told his British counterpart that compliance with Indian laws and regulations is mandatory for all entities operating in the country,” diplomatic sources told The Daily Guardian.
This came after James Cleverly raised the issue of the BBC’s tax obligations during a bilateral meeting with Jaishankar here on Wednesday ahead of a meeting of G20 foreign ministers. “All entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws and regulations,” the UK Foreign Minister was told, according to sources.
Last month, the Income Tax department searched the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai for three days over allegations of irregularities in taxes, diversion of profits and non-compliance. During the survey, senior staff had to stay in office overnight to respond to questions. The searches came weeks after the British public broadcaster aired a documentary that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership of Gujarat during the 2002 sectarian riots. According to the Finance Ministry statement, the IT department gathered several pieces of evidence pertaining to the operation of the organisation, which indicates that the tax has not been paid on certain remittances, and which have not been disclosed as income in India by the foreign entities of the group. The Indian action also came up during a discussion in the UK Parliament. Sources told TDG that the UK foreign minister was apprised of this statement of the finance ministry as well, with full details of the official version pertaining to the findings. Earlier, the Ministry of External Affairs had termed the documentary as a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. “Jaishankar during the meeting with Cleverly gave a firm message that India would not allow any entity to violate the law of the land, no matter which country it may be from,” sources told this newspaper.

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