In an extension of the probe against Chinese firms, the Enforcement Directorate raided over 40 locations linked to Vivo India on Tuesday amid money laundering investigations.
Multiple ED teams conducted searches, which were with respect to violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, in more than 40 locations in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and some southern Indian states. The case is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, while the IT department and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs are also keeping a close watch on the Chinese firms.
Following the probe, Vivo said it is committed to being fully compliant with laws and is cooperating with the authorities to provide them with all required information.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, in a press briefing, said that China is closely following the developments in the matter.
“As I have stressed many times, the Chinese government has always asked Chinese companies to abide by laws and regulations when doing business overseas. In the meantime, we firmly support Chinese companies in safeguarding their lawful rights and interests,” Lijian said. “We hope the Indian authorities will abide by laws as they carry out the investigation and enforcement activities and provide a truly fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies investing and operating in India.”
Meanwhile, according to The Economic Times, two chartered accountants and a company secretary are under the radar of the Indian investigators as these officials knowingly filed documents containing false information on behalf of the two Chinese nationals – Zhengshen Ou and Zhang Jie – with the ministry of corporate affairs. The forged documents have been allegedly used for the registration of Grand Prospect International Communication Pvt. Ltd., a distributor of Vivo’s products in Jammu & Kashmir, and procurement of director identification numbers, the report added.
Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing filed a case against the Chinese multinational tech company on a complaint from the deputy registrar of companies in December and the federal investigation agency is looking if any shell companies were used in money laundering.
According to reports, in terms of sales, Vivo is among the top five smartphone sellers in the country and it had a 15% market share in India at the end of the first quarter of 2022. The raid on Vivo comes amid an ongoing investigation on another Chinese tech giant Xiaomi India for violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act for illegally transferring funds abroad “in the guise of royalty payments”. Since February, the ED has been investigating Xiaomi and in April it seized around $725 million belonging to the company. The decision in the case is put on hold by an Indian court following a legal challenge by Xiaomi.