More trouble seems to be brewing for Finnish handset maker Nokia.
In a Delhi High Court hearing on Monday, the company’s offer to pay Indian tax authorities a sum of Rs2,250 crore in connection with the unfreezing of the Chennai assets of Nokia India Pvt Ltd was rejected by the Income Tax department on grounds that the sum was barely a third of the Rs6,500 crore tax demand raised on the company.
The bench also questioned Nokia India’s intention behind sending Rs3,500 crore to its parent company as dividend of 18 years and asked why the amount should not be brought back to the country.
It is learnt that Nokia India, however, stuck to its offer, saying it is for the I-T department to decide whether it is better off with the proposed amount.
Nokia’s Chennai plant was frozen by the government at the end of September, in conjunction with the company’s failure to pay due taxes. However, in a bid to quickly dissolve of the case that directly impacts the Indian arm’s merger into the new Microsoft-Nokia entity – the deadline for the transfer of assets of which is December 12 -- Nokia has sought to pay some part of the tax demand.
Poonam Kaul, director- communications, Nokia IMEA, said, “Nokia will continue to cooperate with the government and the tax authorities on the ongoing tax case. Nokia reiterates that time is of the essence on the asset freeze issue. Nokia calls on the Indian government and tax authority to work with urgency so that the uncertainty about the site’s future can be dispelled before the deadline of December 12.”
Nokia also claims that the I-T department has been repeatedly changing the asking amount in the tax case – the earliest demand which stood at Rs10,000 crore.
Nokia shareholders have already approved of Microsoft’s takeover of Nokia, and the $7.2 billion deal has reached its final stages.