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Kazakh Authorities Accuse Soros Foundation Of Tax Evasion

by Tatiana Smolenskaya, for LawAndTax-News.com, Moscow

31 December 2004


It emerged this week that the Kazakhstan-based branch of investment guru and philanthropist, George Soros's Open Society Institute, Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan, has been hit with a demand for back taxes in excess of $620,000.

Speaking to the regional media, a spokesman for the Kazakh tax authority revealed that the case is expected to be heard in the New Year.

"The court may fine the foundation in addition to the unpaid taxes and avoiding the payment may lead to the cancellation of the license of the foundation," he explained.

However, the Open Society Institute, which aims to promote open societies through its support of education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as by pushing for social, legal, and economic reform, argued that the taxes have already been paid.

It has been suggested that the tax evasion claim is politically motivated, and results from the Institute's alleged support of protests against the Soviet-style leadership in Georgia in 2003.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan appeared to support this version of events, observing that:

"This legal prosecution can be considered an attempt by the government to force Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan to cease its activities in Kazakhstan and shut its doors for Kazakh citizens and organisations."

The Foundation's chief, Dariusz Zietek went further, suggesting to the Associated Press that:

"Given that they opened the case after we had paid the taxes, it is obvious that there is a political motivation behind it."


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