Justin Williams Quoted in Law360 on Telecom Tax Litigation Cases to Watch
Justin Williams, a partner in Akin Gump’s litigation practice, was quoted in the Law360 article “Telecommunications Tax Litigation To Watch in 2015,” commenting on disputes in India involving Vodafone, Nokia and government tax authorities.
Vodafone is in the midst of a $2 billion tax dispute with the Indian government, stemming from its 2007 acquisition of the Indian cellphone business of Hutchison Whampoa. In 2012, the article notes, an Indian court ruled the purchase was a nontaxable foreign transaction, but the tax laws subsequently changed making the deal taxable retroactively.
Williams said, part of the political class in India “thinks it’s right to tax investment very aggressively, and this makes it a more difficult climate for others to invest in.” Vodafone is currently pursuing arbitration in the matter.
Separately, Nokia and India are in a dispute involving a tax liability the company is said to owe on a phone manufacturing plant in Chennai. The article reports that the company sent a letter last year to India’s prime minister under the Finland-India Bilateral Investment Treaty, but the matter is still pending. According to Williams, “A lot of organizations have cases in India and in due course, they may lead to other bilateral investment treaty arbitration. It starts to sully the country’s reputation as investor-friendly.”