SABMiller Offices Searched in Tax Inquiry

SABMiller, the world's third-largest brewer, said its Moscow office had been searched by government officials investigating a tax case.

"We confirm the fact of inspection held by the Interior Ministry officials," Nadezhda Khotina, corporate affairs manager at SABMiller in Russia, said Thursday by telephone. "The company believes this inspection is linked to the tax case on royalties which is currently under court proceedings.''

Khotina declined to elaborate on the tax case.

Russian officials say SABMiller missed paying duty of 665 million rubles ($27 million) because taxable profit was reduced by royalty payments to producers of licensed brands, Kommersant reported Thursday, without citing anyone. Officials argue that the royalties should have been included in profit, the report said.

SABMiller, Russia's fourth-largest beer producer, is building a second brewery in the country to increase beer output by 50 percent as demand is stronger than in domestic markets, James Wilson, chief of operations in Russia, said in June.

Four-fifths of the company's European profit comes from Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic.