Baku Court of Appeal chaired by Judge Sarvat Huseynov heard the appeal filed by RFE/RL Inc. Company (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) against the ruling dated August 17 of Baku Administrative Economic Court #1 which has suspended the proceedings on Radio Liberty’s lawsuit against the Ministry of Taxes citing an ongoing investigation against the Radio conducted by Serious Crimes Investigations Department of Prosecutor General’s Office. Radio Liberty is seeking the invalidation of the tax audit report dated 10 March 2016 on the results of the on-site tax inspection of the Radio’s Azerbaijani Representative Office and the annulment of Baku Taxes Department deputy chief Ragif Gurbanov’s decision adopted on the basis of this inspection record. The inspection report has imposed an obligation on the Radio Liberty to pay a penalty of 131,540 AZN. The tax audit covered the period from 1 December 2007 through 1 December 2014.
In the appellate court, Radio’s representative lawyer Adil Ismayilov stated that the tax authority’s report and the penalty calculated as a result of the on-site tax inspection were not based on any ground. He said that the calculation of profit tax for Radio Liberty when the latter was not a profit tax payer was beyond any logic.
“I believe that they have deliberately brought up this issue of ongoing investigation against Radio Liberty in order to prolong the court process. But they do not present any evidence confirming that the investigation is continuing. The tax inspection started after Khadija was arrested and the arguments made in the inspection report were also included in the charges brought against her. And, on Khadija’s case, there is not only the investigation agency’s but even the Supreme Court’s decision,” Adil Ismayilov said.
Representative of the Ministry of Taxes, Khamis Seyranov requested that the ruling on the suspension of the proceedings be upheld.
The judge declared that the Radio’s appeal was dismissed and the ruling was upheld.
Background: The Baku office of the Radio Liberty was raided by the Serious Crimes Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office on 26 December 2014. The Radio’s equipments were confiscated.