In a big blow to the world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the maker of popular beer 'Budweiser' and 'Hoegaarden', New Delhi Police are probing a case of alleged tax evasion at the behest of the brewer. This comes in light of the company already battling against an order of a three-year city-wide ban.
After an investigation by the city authorities, which found that beer maker SABMiller, acquired by AB InBev in 2016, used duplicate barcodes on its beer bottles supplied to city retailers, the Delhi government banned the brewer in July. The duplicate barcode allowed AB InBev to pay lower taxes.
Following the ban, however, Anheuser-Busch InBev which is barred from selling its beer in the New Delhi market on account of alleged tax-evasion has denied all allegations and appealed the order.
The Delhi government's ban order had called for further action against AB InBev and a local bar outlet for alleged violation of criminal law provisions such as conspiracy, cheating, and forgery. The Delhi administration made a written request to police authorities last month to register a case.
According to a senior Delhi Police official, Anant Kumar Gunjan, the officers launched an investigation into the case after receiving a request from the Delhi government, a move that could potentially lead to criminal charges. However, a formal case hasn't been registered as of now, the investigation is undergoing.
AB InBev in its part, maintains that the brewer is committed to operating with integrity and high ethical standards.
With AB InBev already arguing against the ban order for Tax evasion, this new investigation for alleged criminal involvement could bring more stress to the firm. In a separate, unrelated case, Anheuser-Busch InBev is also battling an Indian antitrust watchdog investigation concerning alleged beer price-fixing by SABMiller and others.