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Vivo India Bank Account Freeze Lifted by Delhi High Court, Directed to Furnish Guarantee Worth Rs. 950 Crore

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By Agencies | Updated: 13 July 2022

An Indian court on Wednesday lifted a freeze on smartphone maker Vivo’s bank accounts imposed by the country’s financial crime agency and ordering the Chinese company to provide a bank guarantee of $119 million (roughly Rs. 950 crore), a lawyer for the company told Reuters.

In a filing to the Delhi High Court in the capital, Vivo India had said it would not be able to pay statutory dues and salaries, listing 10 affected bank accounts and saying it needed to make monthly payments of Rs. 2,826 crore.

ED contended that presently the proceeds of crime have been quantified to Rs. 1200 crore.
The high court also asked the company to maintain a balance of Rs. 251 crore in the bank accounts, which was there at the time of freezing of the accounts, and the amount shall not be used till further orders.

The court granted one week to the ED to file its response to the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on July 28.

An Indian court on Wednesday lifted a freeze on smartphone maker Vivo’s bank accounts imposed by the country’s financial crime agency and ordering the Chinese company to provide a bank guarantee of $119 million (roughly Rs. 950 crore), a lawyer for the company told Reuters.

In a filing to the Delhi High Court in the capital, Vivo India had said it would not be able to pay statutory dues and salaries, listing 10 affected bank accounts and saying it needed to make monthly payments of Rs. 2,826 crore.

In a brief court hearing on Friday, the court had granted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) until July 13 to decide on that request, and set its next hearing on that date.

Last week, the agency said it had blocked funds of Rs. 465 crore in 119 bank accounts linked to Vivo’s India business and its associates, as it investigates alleged money laundering by the smartphone maker.

News of the agency’s raids on Vivo had prompted China’s embassy in India to call for a fair business environment for its firms, saying multiple investigations of the companies damaged the confidence of foreign entities.

Vivo has said it was cooperating with authorities and was committed to fully complying with Indian laws.

The company ranks among India’s biggest smartphone makers with market share of 15 percent, according to Counterpoint Research.

Market leader Xiaomi has the biggest share, at 24 percent, while South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has 18 percent.

In May, Reuters reported that Xiaomi, one of India’s biggest smartphone sellers, had said in court that its executives faced threats of violence and coercion during agency questioning about accusations of illegal remittances.

Xiaomi has denied wrongdoing, and the agency denied the accusations at the time.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Apple to hike App Store prices in several countries from Oct

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By: Reuters, Updated September 20, 2022

Apple Inc said on Monday prices of apps and in-app purchases on its App Store will increase in several countries including Japan, Malaysia and all territories that use the euro currency, from next month.

The new prices, excluding auto-renewable subscriptions, will be effective as early as Oct. 5, Apple said in a blog post.

These changes will also reflect new regulations for Apple in Vietnam to collect and remit applicable taxes, being value added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT) at 5% rates respectively, the company added.

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Apple plans to use latest chip tech by Taiwan’s TSMC in iPhones, Macs – Nikkei

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By: Reuters, September 14, 2022

Sept 14 (Reuters) – Apple Inc is planning to use an updated version of Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC’s (2330.TW) latest chip producing technology in iPhones and Macbooks next year, the Nikkei Asia newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The A17 mobile processor, which is currently under development, will be mass-produced using TSMC’s N3E chipmaking tech, expected to be available in the second half of next year, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The A17 will be used in the premium entry in the iPhone lineup slated for release in 2023, it added.

Apple declined to comment, while TSMC did not immediately respond to Reuters request for a comment.

The current iPhone model has an A15 processor chip and in the recent Apple launch event, the company said iPhone 14 Pro models will also have the same.

The chipmaker controls about 54% of the global market for contractually produced chips, supplying firms including Apple and Qualcomm Inc.

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New Apple iPhone will be available in Russia, trade minister says

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By: Reuters, September 8, 2022

Sept 8 (Reuters) – Russians will have the chance to buy the new Apple iPhone 14 despite the U.S. tech company having left the country thanks to Moscow’s parallel import scheme, a senior government official told the RIA Novosti news agency on Thursday.

Russia announced the scheme in March when it authorised retailers to import products from abroad without the trademark owner’s permission. read more

Asked whether the new iPhone, unveiled by Apple on Wednesday, would be imported under the scheme, Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov said: “Why not? If consumers want to buy these phones, yes. There will be the opportunity.”

Apple halted new product sales in Russia in March, a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, though the iPhone, MacBook and other Apple goods have remained available in Russian stores as retailers sell down their remaining stock of old models and get hold of newly released devices through the import scheme.

Russian mobile network MTS on Thursday morning was already selling the new iPhone 14 models on pre-order. Prices start from 84,990 roubles ($1,398) for the 128GB version.

MTS said delivery could take up to 120 days and it retained the right to cancel orders if it faced difficulties importing the products.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Manturov, who is also a deputy prime minister, said last month that the scheme, which covers Western products ranging from luxury clothes to cars, could reach $16 billion in value this year, equivalent to around 4% of Russia’s 2021 imports.

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Apple to appeal Brazil sales ban of iPhone without charger

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By: Reuters, September 7, 2022

SAO PAULO, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Apple Inc said on Tuesday it will appeal a Brazilian order banning it from selling iPhones without a battery charger, pushing back on claims that the company provides an incomplete product to consumers.

The Justice Ministry fined Apple 12.275 million reais ($2.38 million) and ordered the company to cancel sales of the iPhone 12 and newer models, in addition to suspending the sale of any iPhone model that does not come with a charger.

In the order, published on Tuesday in the country’s official gazette, the ministry argued that the iPhone was lacking a essential component in a “deliberate discriminatory practice against consumers.”

The authorities rejected Apple’s argument that the practice had the purpose of reducing carbon emissions, saying there is no evidence that selling the smartphone without a charger offers environmental protections.

Apple said it would continue to work with Brazilian consumer protection agency Senacon in order to “resolve their concerns,” while saying it would appeal the decision.

“We have already won several court rulings in Brazil on this matter and we are confident that our customers are aware of the various options for charging and connecting their devices,” Apple said.

The order comes a day before Apple is expected to announce its new iPhone model.

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India considers restricting sale of sub-$150 phones by Chinese firms, Bloomberg reports

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By reuters | Updated: 29 August 2022

NEW DELHI, Aug 8 (Reuters) – India is seeking to restrict Chinese companies from its sub-$150 phone market in a bid to revive the prospects of domestic players, Bloomberg News reported on Monday, citing unidentified sources.

The move would be a blow to Chinese companies such as Xiaomi , according to the report. The plans coincide with rising concerns in India about Chinese brands undercutting local smartphone makers, it added.

It is unclear if the Indian government will announce policies or use informal channels to execute the block on Chinese smartphone makers, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chinese firms account for a major chunk of entry-level smartphones that are popular among users shifting away from traditional devices in India, which is the second largest mobile market in the world.

Indian firms such as Lava and MicroMax rapidly gained popularity after their launch over a decade ago, but have since lost market share to stiff competition from Chinese players.

Many Chinese companies have struggled to do business in India due to political tensions following a border clash in 2020. India cited security concerns in banning more than 300 Chinese apps, and has also tightened rules for Chinese companies investing in India.

Xiaomi and rival Vivo are being investigated by India’s financial crime fighting agency for alleged illegal remittances and money laundering. Both deny any wrongdoing.

The companies and the Indian government did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

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Apple Reveals Serious Security Flaws Affecting iPhone, iPad, Mac Models; Experts Urge Users to Update Devices

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By Associated Press | Updated: 20 August 2022

Apple disclosed serious security vulnerabilities for iPhone, iPad and Mac models that could potentially allow attackers to take complete control of these devices. Apple released two security reports about the issue on Wednesday, although they didn’t receive wide attention outside of tech publications. Apple’s explanation of the vulnerability means a hacker could get “full admin access” to the device. That would allow intruders to impersonate the device’s owner and subsequently run any software in their name, said Rachel Tobac, CEO of SocialProof Security.

Security experts have advised users to update affected devices — the iPhone 6s and later models; several models of the iPad, including the 5th generation iPad and later, all iPad Pro models and the iPad Air 2; and Mac computers running MacOS Monterey. The flaw also affects some iPod models.

Apple did not say in the first or second report how, where or by whom the vulnerabilities were discovered. In all cases, it cited an anonymous researcher.

Commercial spyware companies such as Israel’s NSO Group are known for identifying and taking advantage of such flaws, exploiting them in malware that surreptitiously infects targets’ smartphones, siphons their contents and surveils the targets in real time.

NSO Group has been blacklisted by the US Commerce Department. Its spyware is known to have been used in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America against journalists, dissidents and human rights activists.

Security researcher Will Strafach said he had seen no technical analysis of the vulnerabilities that Apple has just patched. The company has previously acknowledged similarly serious flaws and, in what Strafach estimated to be perhaps a dozen occasions, has noted that it was aware of reports that such security holes had been exploited.

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