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Vivo India Remitted 50 Percent Turnover Worth Rs. 62,476 Crore to Avoid Paying Tax in India, Claims ED

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 8 July 2022

A whopping Rs 62,476 crore has been “illegally” transferred by smartphone maker Vivo to China in order to avoid payment of taxes in India, the Enforcement Directorate said Thursday, as it claimed to have busted a major money laundering racket involving Chinese nationals and multiple Indian companies.

This money is almost half of Vivo’s turnover of Rs. 1,25,185 crore, it said without stating the time period of the transaction.

The crackdown on the leading Chinese company came after the federal probe agency found that three Chinese nationals, all of whom “left” India during 2018-21, and one other person from that country incorporated as many as 23 companies in India in which they were also helped by a Chartered Accountant, Nitin Garg.

Among the foreigners, one identified as Bin Lou was an ex-director of Vivo and, according to the ED, he left India in April, 2018. Two others — Zhengshen Ou and Zhang Jie — left the country in 2021, it said.

“These (23) companies are found to have transferred huge amounts of funds to Vivo India. Further, out of the total sale proceeds of Rs. 1,25,185 crore, Vivo India remitted Rs. 62,476 crore or almost 50 per cent of the turnover out of India, mainly to China,” the ED said in a statement.

These remittances, it added, were made in order to “disclose huge losses in Indian incorporated companies to avoid payment of taxes in India.” The action is being seen as part of the Union government’s steps to tighten checks on Chinese entities and the continued crackdown on such firms and their linked Indian operatives that are allegedly indulging in serious financial crimes like money laundering and tax evasion while operating here.

The stepped-up action against the Chinese-backed companies or entities operating in India comes in the backdrop of the military stand-off between the two countries along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh that has been ongoing for more than two years now.

The statement came after the ED raided 48 locations of Vivo Mobiles India Pvt. Ltd. and its associated companies across the country on July 5.

Vivo had said on Tuesday that “as a responsible corporate, we are committed to be fully compliant with laws.” The agency said while it followed “all due procedures as per law” during the raids conducted under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), it alleged “employees of Vivo India, including some Chinese nationals, did not cooperate with the search proceedings and tried to abscond, remove and hide digital devices which were retrieved by the search teams.” Recently, Indian intelligence agencies had found that the data of domestic customers was being “illegally” transferred by Chinese companies to servers kept in that country.

The ED also said post the raids, it seized funds worth Rs. 465 crore kept in 119 bank accounts by various entities involved in the case, Rs. 73 lakh cash and 2kg gold bars.

The agency filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR, on February 3 after studying a Delhi Police FIR (registered at Kalkaji police station) of December last year against a associated company of Vivo, Grand Prospect International Communication Pvt Ltd (GPICPL), its directors, shareholders and some others professionals.

The police complaint was filed by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs alleging that GPICPL and its shareholders used “forged” identification documents and “falsified” addresses at the time of incorporation of the company in December, 2014.

This company had its registered address in Solan (Himachal Pradesh), Gandhinagar (Gujarat) and Jammu (J&K). The three Chinese nationals, mentioned above, incorporated this company while a fourth one, Zhixin Wei, also opened four companies to carry out similar transactions.

“The allegations (made by the ministry) were found to be true as the investigation revealed that the addresses mentioned by the directors of GPICPL did not belong to them, but in fact it was a government building and house of a senior bureaucrat,” the ED said.

It said Vivo Mobiles Pvt Ltd was incorporated on August 1, 2014 as a subsidiary of Multi Accord Ltd, a Hong Kong-based company.

The ED identified the other 22 companies as: Rui Chuang Technologies Pvt Ltd (Ahmedabad), V Dream Technology & Communication Pvt Ltd (Hyderabad), Regenvo Mobile Pvt Ltd (Lucknow), Fangs Technology Pvt Ltd (Chennai), Weiwo Communication Pvt Ltd (Bangalore), Bubugao Communication Pvt Ltd (Jaipur), Haicheng Mobile (India) Pvt Ltd (Delhi), Joinmay Mumbai Electronics Pvt. Ltd (Mumbai), Yingjia Communication Pvt Ltd (Kolkata) and Jie Lian Mobile India Pvt. Ltd. (Indore).

The rest are Vigour Mobile India Pvt Ltd (Gurugram), Hisoa Electronic Pvt Ltd (Pune), Haijin Trade India Pvt Ltd (Kochi), Rongsheng Mobile India Pvt Ltd (Guwahati), Morefun Communication Pvt Ltd (Patna), Aohua Mobile India Pvt Ltd (Raipur), Pioneer Mobile Pvt Ltd (Bhubaneswar), Unimay Electronic Pvt Ltd (Nagpur), Junwei Electronic Pvt Ltd (Aurangabad), Huijin Electronic India Pvt Ltd (Ranchi), MGM Sales Pvt Ltd (Dehradun) and Joinmay Electronic Pvt Ltd (Mumbai).

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NavIC Rollout: No Timeline Fixed For Implementing Indigenous GPS Alternative, MeitY Says

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By ANI | Updated: 27 September 2022

The central government has said that it has held a meeting with mobile manufacturers to discuss the compatibility of the home-grown global positioning system — NavIC — in smartphones, but no timeline was fixed for its implementation.

This clarification by the government came on Monday after media reports suggested India was looking to mandate its indigenous navigation system “within months”.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said the meeting was “consultative”.

“A media report has claimed citing a meeting that mobile cos were asked to make smartphones compatible with NavIC within months. This is to clarify: (1) No timeline has been fixed. (2) The cited meeting was consultative; and (3) the issue is under discussion with all stakeholders,” the Ministry of Electronics and IT said in a tweet late on Monday night.

What is NavIC? How is it different from its previous version IRNSS?

NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is the name of the independent stand-alone navigation satellite system of India.

This system was earlier known as IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System).

The name NavIC was coined by the Prime Minister of India on the occasion of the completion of the constellation in April 2016.

Which are the navigation satellite systems operational currently in the world?

Presently, there are four global systems, GPS from the US, GLONASS from Russia, Galileo from European Union and BeiDou from China.

In addition, there are two regional systems, NavIC from India and QZSS from Japan.

What is the need for NavIC when already GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou are operating?

GPS and GLONASS are operated by defence agencies of the respective nations. It is possible that the civilian service can be degraded or denied.

NavIC is an independent regional system over the Indian region and does not depend on other systems for providing position service within the service region.

It is fully under the control of the Government of India.

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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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