ByteDance Goes to Court as India Freezes Its Bank Accounts: Report

According to the report, two of ByteDance India’s bank accounts in Citibank and HSBC were blocked by authorities.

2 min read
ByteDance is the parent company of video apps like TikTok and Vigo Video.

Indian authorities have blocked the bank accounts of ByteDance in the country alleging tax evasion, and in response, the company has asked a court to quash the directive fearing that it will hit its operations hard, two sources with insider knowledge informed Reuters.

In January, ByteDance cut its workforce in India following the Indian government’s ban on its popular video app TikTok, which was first prohibited last year amid a border confrontation between India and China.

ByteDance still has around 1,300 employees in the country, most of whom work in its overseas operations, including activities such as content moderation.

According to the report, two of ByteDance India’s bank accounts in Citibank and HSBC were blocked by authorities in mid-March owing to alleged tax evasion pertaining to the online advertising dealings between the ByteDance’s unit in India and its parent body in Singapore, TikTok Pte Ltd, the sources said.

The authorities also reportedly directed both the banks to stop ByteDance India from withdrawing funds from any other accounts linked to its tax identification number.

In a court filing which is due to be heard at a High Court in Mumbai soon, the company’s Indian wing has argued that while it had only about $10 million in its accounts, freezing their account was an abuse of the legal process and will make it cumbersome for them to pay salaries and taxes, the source informed Reuters.

A Bytedance spokesperson said, “At ByteDance, we are committed to abiding by local laws and regulations. While we disagree with the decision of the tax authority in this matter, we will extend our full cooperation to the government."

The sources declined to be identified as details of the bank’s blocking or company’s challenge in the court were not public.

ByteDance India, as well as HSBC, Citibank and India’s finance ministry, did not immediately offer any comments.

(This story has been updated to reflect a quote from ByteDance.)

(With inputs from Reuters)

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