'Gulen-linked' company accused of tax fraud in Azerbaijan

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The company has filed an objection after being issued a tax penalty

The company has filed an objection after being issued a tax penalty

BAKU, Azerbaijan – A Turkish company which runs several private tutoring centers in Azerbaijan has been accused of tax evasion by the Ministry of Taxes of the Republic of Azerbaijan, local media said on Wednesday.

Azerbaijan-based Cag Education Company, which allegedly run by a movement headed by U.S.-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, was audited by a team of tax auditors in October and November 2013, Azeri media reported.

The movement is accused by the Turkish government of forming a 'parallel' group nestled within Turkey's judiciary and police force. In February, Azeri media claimed that the group also infiltrated state institutions in Azerbaijan and found cohorts among some politicians.

The education company has filed an objection with the court, and the first hearing of the case drew great attention in Azerbaijan on Wednesday.  

"The case is regarding the income taxes of the company. Taxpayers have the right to sue the decisions of tax authorities," said a statement issued by the Ministry of Taxes.

No details have been given about the amount of tax penalty.

The company owns 13 private tutoring centers in Azerbaijan.

On March 12, Turkey officially closed all private tutoring centres, known as 'dershanes' in Turkish. According to the measure, dershanes will be allowed to operate until September 1, 2015, before being converted into conventional private schools by June 2019.

Dershanes have been highly popular in Turkey for more than 10 years as an educational aid to help students prepare for high school and university entrance exams.

They have also attracted frequent media attention, as a substantial number of them are reportedly run by the Gulen movement. 

The Turkish government has accused Gulen's Hizmet (Service) movement of being behind a number of operations aimed at tarnishing its reputation over the last three years.

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