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ByteDance: India's freezing of bank accounts is a threat

 ByteDance: India's freezing of bank accounts is a threat

ByteDance, a Chinese company, has told an Indian court that the government’s freezing of bank accounts is threatening and was done illegally, according to a file seen by Reuters.

ByteDance: India's freezing of bank accounts is a threat

ByteDance in January cut its Indian workforce after New Delhi maintained a ban on the popular video app TikTok, which was imposed last year after a border clash between India and China.

Beijing has repeatedly criticized India over banning TikTok and other Chinese apps.

In mid-March, an Indian tax intelligence unit ordered HSBC and Citibank in Mumbai to freeze ByteDance India's bank accounts while investigating some of the unit's financial transactions.

ByteDance has appealed against the freezing of the four accounts in a Mumbai court.

None of ByteDance India's employees got paid for the month of March due to the account freeze, and the company told the court it has a workforce of 1,335 people, including outside employees.

ByteDance informed the Mumbai Supreme Court that the authorities acted against the company without any physical evidence and did not provide initial notice prior to the action as required by Indian law.

In the 209-page court file filed on March 25, ByteDance argued that blocking accounts during the investigation process amounted to undue coercion.

And ByteDance's tax agency made it clear last year that it had reason to believe it had demanded excessive tax breaks.

The court refused to grant ByteDance immediate relief at the short hearing.

The investigation focuses on potential tax evasion related to online advertising and other financial transactions between ByteDance India and Singapore's parent entity, TikTok.

  • ByteDance told the court: Its workforce in India includes 800 people who work on the Trust and Security team that supports activities such as overseeing content abroad.

  • She added that she had strong business plans in India and was not considering liquidating them, and urged the court to lift the account freeze.

The Tax Authority began investigating the company in July, inspecting documents in the company’s office and summoning and questioning at least three executives.

Authorities also required ByteDance to provide documents, including invoices and signed agreements with some clients, and ByteDance representatives appeared several times in front of tax officers and presented the documents.

And TikTok, one of India's most popular video apps before it was banned, is under scrutiny around the world.

Under former President Donald Trump, the United States claimed that the app raises national security concerns.

The new administration of President (Joe Biden) has shelved a government lawsuit that could have led to an effective ban on TikTok use in the United States.