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McDonald's Russia Fights $6.5 Million Tax Claim: Report

The Russian arm of McDonald's is fighting a 160 million roble ($6.5 million) claim brought by tax inspectors, in the second tax case to hit a foreign firm in two weeks, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

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McDonald's

The Kommersant daily, citing court documents, said McDonald's was suspected of buying meat and packing materials via shell companies, and obtaining value-added tax relief on milk and meat purchases without proper documentation.

On Nov. 22, police raided the Moscow offices of Sun InBev, part of the world's leading brewer InBev, in connection with a probe into suspected tax evasion, a source with knowledge of the situation said at the time.

The cases may raise fears among investors that Russia's tax authorities are turning their attention to the consumer sector after bringing down oil major YUKOS with back-tax claims running to $30 billion.

McDonald's in Russia declined to comment. But Kommersant quoted a spokeswoman as saying the company had petitioned the Moscow Arbitration Court as it considered the tax claim to be groundless. A hearing has been set for Dec. 12, the paper said.

McDonald's is enjoying healthy growth in Russia, a market it entered in the early 1990s, and its eatery in central Moscow's Pushkin Square has ranked as its busiest in the world.

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