On June 14, the home of Ales Lipai, the founder and director general of independent news agency BelaPAN, was raided by the finance police. Lipai is suspected of tax evasion.
It is the Financial Investigations Department (part of the State Control Committee) that opened the criminal case against chairman of the Human Rights Centre Viasna Ales Byalyatski in 2011.
After the seven-hour search, Lipai was taken for questioning and then released.
“The financial police have credible information that in 2016-2017 A.I. Lipai received income amounting to BYN 1.3 mln rubles from non-residents of the Republic of Belarus; he purposedly failed to submit tax bills to the inspection of the Ministry of Taxes and Levies on time and did not pay income tax,” the State Control Committee says.
The head of the news agency has admitted his violating the law and already paid taxes and penalties. However, the finance police is set to ‘clarify the circumstances of his receiving money’.
A criminal case under Art. 243-2 (tax evasion) has been opened against Ales Lipai. The article may carry punishment of up to 7 years of imprisonment and confiscation of property.
BelaPAN is the only private news agency in Belarus. It was founded by Ales Lipai in 1991. The independent media outlet was the general sponsor of the 2018 Freedom Day concert on March, 25.
52-year-old Ales Lipai is also known as the author of several collections of poetry and a man of great courage. In June 1996, he diverted the terrorist’s attention by interviewing him during the hostage release operation in a kindergarten in Minsk.
Belsat TV will watch the developments in the case.