23/10/2014 19:10
RIA Novosti

Russia

Moscow court overturns tax claims against British Council

13:33 17/10/2008
MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow's arbitration court ruled on Friday that the majority of tax claims filed against the British Council in Russia for 2004-2006 were unlawful.

The ruling came in response to the lawsuit lodged by the British Embassy's cultural arm against claims made by the tax authorities on January 21. Both court officials and the concerned parties declined to comment on the court decision and the size of the tax claims.

Russian authorities ordered the closure of the organization's two remaining regional branches in January, citing status irregularities and non-payment of taxes. The decision came amid growing tension between Russia and the U.K.

The British Council's Moscow office called the tax claims filed in May "punitive and disproportionate" and paid only part of the sum demanded, and also filed an appeal with the arbitration court.

Tax authorities then threatened to send in bailiffs to seize British Council property, including books, office equipment and furniture, from the Moscow office if the tax arrears remained unpaid.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier said the British Council, which first opened in Moscow in the early 1990s, later opened 14 regional offices without ensuring their legal status and engaged in commercial activities without paying taxes.

The scandal broke out amid a dispute over the main suspect in the fatal poisoning of Russian intelligence defector and British national Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006, who Moscow has refused to extradite, citing the Constitution and demanding more evidence from U.K. authorities.

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RIA NovostiMoscow court overturns tax claims against British Council

13:33 17/10/2008 Moscow's arbitration court ruled on Friday that the majority of tax claims filed against the British Council in Russia for 2004-2006 were unlawful. >>

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