U.K. telecom giant Vodafone Group PLC (VOD.LN) hasn't approached the Indian government to seek an out-of-court settlement regarding a $2 billion tax dispute, a federal minister told lawmakers Tuesday.
S.S. Palanimanickam, India's junior minister for finance, was responding to questions from lawmakers on whether Vodafone had asked for a settlement.
Palanimanickam said also that the Indian government hasn't ordered the reopening of cases similar to the Vodafone issue.
"The decision to reopen or not reopen [cases] is taken by the accessing officer on the basis of facts and circumstances of each case. The government has not issued any direction in this regard", he said.
He added that there is a six-year time limit on reopening cases, despite any retrospective amendments.
Indian authorities hit Vodafone with a $2 billion tax demand for its $11.2 billion purchase of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s Indian assets in 2007.
But on Jan. 20 this year, India's Supreme Court agreed with Vodafone's argument that no tax was due as the deal was between two foreign companies -- a Dutch unit of Vodafone and a Cayman Islands-registered unit of Hutchison -- and conducted outside India.
But the government then proposed amending laws which would allow it to tax international transactions retroactively if they involve the transfer of local assets.
The proposal is pending parliament's approval.
--By Mukesh Jagota and Kenan Machado, Dow Jones Newswires; +91 22 6145 6107; [email protected]