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PwC 'Unaffected' by Russian Tax Probe

by Tatiana Smolenskaya,, Moscow

19 March 2007

PricewaterhouseCoopers Audit (PwC) said last week that its operations were "unaffected" after representatives of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and Prosecutor General’s Office seized documents from the firm’s Moscow office earlier in the month.

The search writs permitted the Ministry of Internal Affairs to seize documents relating to a 2002 tax claim. The Prosecutor General’s Office was gathering evidence relating to its ongoing investigation of Yukos.

According to the tax office, PwC helped Yukos to delay paying its 2002 taxes until 2005, and has demanded that the US$145,000 paid to the audit firm by the oil company be handed over to tax collectors.

The tax service also took issue with the fact that PwC conducted two separate audits on Yukos - one intended for internal use and the other prepared for the use of shareholders in the company.

However PwC claimed that the Ministry of Internal Affairs took into their possession paper files and electronic records not limited to the period of 2002, an action which, according to the company, went "well beyond the scope of the tax claim".

"PwC strongly objects to the seizure of such information and has engaged legal counsel to ensure that applicable laws pertaining to the release of seized documents are respected and that all documents unrelated to the cases in question are promptly returned to PwC," the firm said in a statement.

"PwC strongly denies any wrongdoing in either the 2002 tax case or in relation to its audits, and continues to work to resolve both matters," it added.

The company stated that it continues to work in the best interests of its clients, which include some of the most successful and important businesses in Russia.

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