Huawei Telecommunications India chief executive officer (CEO) Li Xiongwei (also David Li), while challenging an application issued by the Income Tax department in a Delhi court, has said that he is a “Chinese national and not a terrorist”.
According to a report in The Economic Times, in July this year, the Income Tax department filed a case against top Huawei Telecommunications (India) officials, including CEO Li Xiongwei, and three others, alleging that the company is withholding important information on tax in some of the ongoing cases. The other officers involved are deputy CFO Sandeep Bhatia, tax head Amit Duggal, and transfer pricing in-charge Long Cheng.
On May 1, Li was stopped by the I-T department at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport from flying to Bangkok. He was appointed as the CEO of the telecom giant in April 2020.
The case so far
The I-T department had earlier accused Huawei of transferring a chunk of money to its parent firm in China as dividends, which is around $94 million and trimmed its taxable income in India. A search operation was launched in February this year at several premises of Huawei in India to look into the irregularities.
As the investigations are on, the I-T Department issued a lookout circular (LOC) that prevented Li from traveling outside India.
The circular was challenged by the CEO in the Delhi High Court, who demanded that he should be allowed to travel abroad.
Following this, the I-T department urged the Court to dismiss Huawei CEO’s application and asked him to appeal to a lower court explaining his reasons to travel abroad.
Other Chinese companies, such as Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo, are also under the scanner for their earnings and tax-related issues.
A case of ‘Flight Risk’
The I-T department challenging Li’s petition to travel abroad told the court that as India doesn’t have an extradition treaty with China if the Huawei CEO travels out of the country, it would be “very difficult” for the authorities to bring him back for trial if found guilty. It might be the case of ‘flight risk”, the lawyers appearing for the I-T department said.
The department had mentioned a couple of times that Li’s conduct showed “he did not wish to cooperate in the probe and was avoiding it”.
Reacting to the claims, Li’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal, on behalf of Li, told the court: “I am a Chinese national and not a terrorist”.
While arguing the case, Li’s counsel said this is an abuse of power as the department was “opposing bail in a bailable offence”. The whole act was “disturbing” as the department’s notice can only be sent out in the case of a cognisable offence.
The bench on its part asked Li’s counsel to produce information about Li’s annual salary and arrange for two sureties, both Indian nationals before it gives the verdict next week. The court has also asked for a detailed report on Li’s relatives and the assets he owns in India.
The I-T department, on its part, said that the LOC was issued on valid grounds and as per the law.
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