Tax officers visited the office of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee without warning today.
They handed in an order of seizure and/or distress of property and a notification on measures to detect the payer's property to committee head Aleh Hulak, the BHC press service reports.
It should be reminded that the BHC must pay over 205 million rubles of taxes and penalties for the grants of the European Commission received in 2002-2003 that were issued on a tax-exempt basis under international agreements of the Republic of Belarus. More than 30 NGOs received grants from the European Commission as part of the international technical assistance project, but only two organisations were ordered to pay taxes.
The BHC found the decision of the Taxation Ministry illegal and appealed against it to a court. National courts of all instances ruled that the human rights organisation did not owe anything to the state.
Ahead of the 2006 elections, which were monitored by the BHC, the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Court reconsidered the earlier decisions of the courts. The Taxation Ministry attached and seized the BHC's property worth 255,000 Belarusian rubles. Accounts of the organisation were blocked.
In 2006, the financial investigation department of the State Control Committee closed the criminal case against BHC leaders over tax evasion for lack of evidence.