Income Tax officials ‘survey’ the BBC
IT officials swarmed the BBC India offices in Mumbai and Delhi yesterday—confiscating laptops and phones. The operation started at 11 am yesterday and is still underway. While there is no official statement on BBC India’s sins, unnamed government sources accuse it of “deliberate non-compliance with the transfer pricing rules” and “vast diversion of profits.”
The ‘S’ word: Tax officials insist that Tuesday’s daytime visits were not raids—but surveys. The difference: Surveys only target business premises—not residences—and only impounds transaction records. They are also undertaken during business hours. So no midnight knocks on the door. Point to note: surveys are usually precursors to a full-blown raid—though they can also be used to just send a message.
The allegations: are currently wrapped in mind-numbing jargon—with little evidence to back them. In essence, the investigation focuses on violations of the ‘transfer pricing’ rules. Transfer pricing is the value of transactions between two companies associated with one another—say a parent and a subsidiary.
The fees charged for goods, services or technology in these transactions can be manipulated to avoid paying taxes—and/or divert profits outside a country. We presume this has something to do with transactions between BBC India and its parent corporation in the UK—but are still waiting for more clarity.
A quick reminder: if you need it. BBC UK recently ran a two-part documentary on the Gujarat violence targeting Muslims in 2002—looking at the role of then Chief Minister Modi. The government has been on a rampage ever since—forcing Twitter to take down links to the documentary, and pulling it off YouTube. FYI: BBC India had no role in the making of the film.
The great earthquake: The latest update
The official death count has now crossed 40,000. But there is some good news for Syrian survivors stranded without aid. President Bashar al-Assad has finally agreed to open two border crossings to allow aid to be sent from Turkey to parts of the country controlled by rebels. The first Saudi plane in over a decade landed in the city of Aleppo carrying 35 tonnes of food aid. Why this is notable: the Saudis severed ties with Assad in 2011—and backed the rebels in the civil war. It has now pledged assistance for areas held by both sides.
Related read: New Yorker on how Assad blocked international aid for dying Syrians for over a week.
Air India’s big effing aviation deal
The Tata-owned company is on a wild shopping spree—and has placed the biggest aircraft order ever. It is buying 540 planes from Boeing and Airbus priced at a whopping $82 billion—though we presume the actual price will reflect a serious bulk order discount:). The shopping cart includes both short-haul aircraft for domestic flights and long-haul carriers that can fly to the US and Europe.
This was such a big deal that both PM Modi and French President Macron made a virtual appearance for the announcement. All of which is fabulous except AI international tickets will likely become stupidly expensive—to finance this big splurge. FYI: the previous single largest order was a 460-plane purchase by American Airlines in 2011. (Mint)