Criminal case against ‘Turan’ independent news agency launched in Azerbaijan
The Department for Preliminary Investigation of Tax Crimes at the Ministry of Taxes of the Republic of Azerbaijan has launched a preliminary investigation and instituted criminal proceedings against the ‘Turan’ news agency. The department has also started a field tax audit of the agency’s activity.
Earlier, the Local Revenues Department ordered to impose an additional income tax for the period of 2014 on the agency, amounting to AZ N27 000 (approximately USD 16 000), which, if coupled with the interest-bearing debt, totals over AZN 37 000 (more than USD 27 000).
Both departments demanded that the agency should produce its tax documents (within a 5 and 15-day period, respectively).
Mehman Aliyev, the Director of the ‘Turan’ news agency, flatly denies the tax agencies’ allegations regarding the news agency’s understatement of profits and considers the audits launched by those agencies as illegal and clearly biased. In this regard, the agency filed a lawsuit against both departments of the Ministry of Taxes. Fuad Agayev, a prominent lawyer, will defend the agency’s rights in court.
“The haste verging on a monstrous legal nihilism and demonstration of flagrant disobedience to a higher authority and its decision, as well as disregard for the Constitution and the Tax Code, can also be a sign that these actions and decisions are custom-made and aimed at hampering the activity of Turan news agency as a media body, and paralyzing its work. This suspicion is further strengthened by the synchronized actions of the two departments, as well as by an obviously groundless criminal case,” the agency stressed in its statement.
According to Aliyev, the agency’s activity in recent years has been profitless. “The advertising market is strictly controlled and the independent media outlets are deprived of advertising. Our revenues come from subscriber fees, mostly from international organizations, foreign mass media and private companies, foreign embassies, as well as a number of local state and private institutions etc. Those funds are hardly enough to pay salaries to our staff, to cover utilities and telecommunications costs. Any profit is out of question, to say nothing of the profit tax. At the same time, we regularly pay other taxes, including income tax (of the employees), as well as cover all mandatory social insurance payments,” the Caucasian Knot news agency cited Aliyev as saying.
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