ED rejects Xiaomi coercion charges

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Executives of Chinese phone maker Xiaomi, including its global vice-president Manu Kumar Jain, were not threatened or coerced when their statements were recorded, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Saturday, refuting allegations by the company that is facing charges of financial irregularities in India.

“The allegations that the statement of the officials of Xiaomi India was taken under coercion by the ED are untrue and baseless,” the agency that investigates financial crimes said in a statement.

It was responding to Xiaomi India’s allegations before the Karnataka high court that its top executives were threatened with “physical violence and coercion” during their questioning by investigators in Bengaluru.

In a filing before the court earlier this week, the mobile phone manufacturer claimed that despite full cooperation, its representatives, including Jain, their families and relatives were threatened with “dire consequences” — including arrest, damage to their career prospects, criminal liability and physical violence — if they did not give statements as per the dictates of directorate.

“There was no coercion or threat to the officers of the company at any point of time,” the federal agency said in the statement, asserting that it is a “professional agency with strong work ethics”.

The central anti-money laundering probe agency said the “officials of Xiaomi India deposed their statements before ED under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) voluntarily in the most conducive environment on various occasions. The statements were deposed by them on the basis of documents/information provided by the company during the course of investigation.”

The agency said the statements “corroborate with the written replies submitted to ED and the materials on record”.

The development comes in the backdrop of ED on April 29 making a seizure of 5,551 crore of Xiaomi in bank accounts for violating the foreign exchange law. Earlier this week, the Karnataka high court stayed the ED’s action.

Sharing details of questioning of Xiaomi’s senior executives, ED said on Saturday that Jain’s statements under FEMA were recorded on April 13, 14, 21 and 26, while those of company’s chief financial officer Sameer BS Rao were recorded on March 25, April 14, 19, 21, 22 and 26.

“However, no complaint was filed by them at any point of time during recording of statements at various occasions,” ED said.

“Last statement of the officials of the company was recorded on April 26 and the seizure order was passed on April 29. It appears that allegation now made after passage of substantial time is an afterthought. The allegations are baseless and far from the facts,” ED said.



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