May 14, 2021, Friday

DRI raid in Coca-Cola office produces fizz, tax evasion?

Kathmandu. Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) Pulchowk has raided Bottlers Nepal Limited, the parent company of Coca-Cola Nepal, a multi national beverage company, and confiscated the documents and computers of the company.

According to the security personnel at the Bottlers Nepal office in Balaju Industrial Area, the DRI staff entered the premises from the back gate at around 1:30 pm on Monday and exited from the same gate at 3:30 pm with documents and computers. In the two hour-raid, the DRI personnel searched and took all documents related to tax and business and have also sealed some.

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On Friday, as DCNepal reporters reached the Office of Bottlers Nepal for information, the security personnel notified them that all senior officers had gone to the DRI Pulchowk.

One person had submitted a written complaint at the DRI Pulchowk claiming that there had been tax evasion during the change of investors at Bottlers Nepal. The recent raid has been the outcome of the continuous query of the complainant, it has been learnt.

The Bottlers Nepal tax evasion case and the Ncell tax evasion case are of the same nature and it seems that Bottlers Nepal had evaded tax multiple times with the change in investors. Currently, Indian national Pradip Pandey is the general manager of Bottles Nepal from the new management side. The complainant has alleged Pandey also to be involved in the case.

The complainant had given the information to the DRI that Bottlers Nepal, a company associated with the Coca-Cola Company, had evaded the capital gain tax during the ownership transfer of the company in 2014.

Coca-Cola South Africa Bottling Company South Africa had sold its 76 percent ownership right to Bottling Investment Group Atlanta, USA in 2014. Personnel at the DRI noted that thenraid had been carried to investigate the tax evasion claim as made in the complaint.

The complainant claims that the Indian management exercised its influence in Nepal and evaded the tax. It is mentioned in the complaint to the department that the seller African company was willing to pay the sum but the Indian management dissuaded it to do so.

The process of transferring the ownership right to the Bottling Investment Group Atlanta has been ongoing at the Commerce Department for two years, but some lacking in the process has led to the delay.

The Coca-Cola South Africa Bottling Company had sold its ownership right in Coca Cola Bangladesh and Nepal to Bottling Investment Group Atlanta in 2014. The Rs 17 billion deal had taken place in Dubai. Nepal had the right to a hefty sum as capital gain tax which the international parties evaded carrying the shady deal in Dubai.