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Nokia protests against Indian tax probe

A Nokia smartphone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Bucharest January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel
A Nokia smartphone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Bucharest January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finnish phone maker Nokia said on Tuesday it was protesting against a tax investigation in India, a crucial market, in the latest dispute involving a foreign company's tax.

Nokia said it has not yet received any information on potential claims resulting from the investigation that started in January.

Last week, Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell's Indian unit said it would challenge a local tax claim on a share sale, while British mobile phone firm Vodafone is trying to settle a long-running $2 billion tax dispute with Indian authorities.

Countries like India are crucial for Nokia's attempt to hold on to global market share. Earlier on Tuesday, it announced an expansion of its Asha line of low-end smartphones and India is widely seen as a key market for such cheaper models.

Nokia said the actions of the tax authorities were "unacceptable and inconsistent with Indian standards of fair play and governance."

The company objected to officials entering its factory in Chennai, southern India, which is one of its biggest facilities. Nokia said it has invested over $330 million in Chennai since setting up the factory in 2006.

A senior Indian tax official said in January that the investigation related to allegations that Nokia may have evaded around 30 billion rupees ($558 million) in taxes.

Nokia said on Tuesday it was in full compliance with local laws as well as a bilateral tax treaty between India and Finland related to withholding tax.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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