Huawei Telecommunications (India) CEO Li Xiongwei told a Delhi court on Friday, “I am a Chinese (national) and not a terrorist,” apparently borrowing a line from an actor Shah Rukh Khan film.
The remark was made by his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal in response to the Income Tax (I-T) department’s opposition to Li’s bail application. The ministry asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. In My Name is Khan, the star’s character says, “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”
The ministry told the court that India does not have an extradition treaty with China and if the CEO goes to that country, it will be “very difficult” to bring him back. The investigation is yet to be completed, the ministry said in its affidavit.
The ministry released the affidavit in response to a lawsuit filed by Li seeking to quash the circular issued against him by the Income Tax Department. A lookout circular, or LOC, prevents a person from traveling abroad. Authorities use it to prevent people accused of criminal cases from leaving the country; they usually only learn about such curbs against them at the airport.
Objecting to the ministry’s demand, Aggarwal said it was “disturbing” that the ministry was opposing bail in a bailable offence. Aggarwal argued that the LOC issued against Li was an abuse of power, adding that such a restriction can only be issued for a cognizable offence. The offense allegedly involving Li is a non-cognizable offence, he claimed.
The court orally noted that it would have to examine safeguards to ensure that Li would return to India if he was allowed to visit China. “What if he flies off (to China) tomorrow and never comes back?”
Verdict next week
The court asked about Li’s annual salary and asked his lawyer to ensure that two sureties, both Indian nationals, are arranged by next week when the court delivers its verdict. The court also inquired about Li’s relatives and assets in India.
Based on the court’s inquiry, Li’s lawyer voluntarily notified the IT department seven days in advance before leaving the country.
In its affidavit, the Income Tax department said the LOC against the CEO was “proper and in accordance with the provisions of law”. The ministry said that in this scenario, “there are no grounds for canceling the LOC”.
The affidavit added that “the rights of the individual must be balanced against safeguarding the interests of law enforcement and investigations. In this case, the economic interest of the country would come first.”
The department further said that they “deliberately circumvented” compliance and indulged in shifting “responsibility/responsibility onto another shoulder” during raids on premises belonging to Huawei’s CEO and other employees in February.
The department argued that the documents submitted by Huawei were “grossly insufficient to ascertain the truth of the various assertions made in the returns and to determine a reasonable price at normal prices of material related-party transactions that the company conducted without prescribed books of accounts.” .”
He further stated that “inconsistencies in the linking of ERP (enterprise resource planning) data submitted with the company’s final financial statements in themselves constitute a deliberate and deliberate attempt by the company and those responsible for its affairs, including the CEO, to deny access as mandated by law.” “
ET was the first to report on May 25 that Li, a Chinese national, was stopped at the New Delhi airport on May 1 and was not allowed to board a flight to Bangkok to attend a meeting on behalf of Huawei Telecommunications (India). His boarding pass was canceled and not returned to him. He moved the Delhi High Court and challenged the LOC.
Li called the I-T department’s action a “huge blow” to his reputation “as well as Huawei India’s”. In response, as first reported by ET last month, the I-T department told the Delhi High Court that an LOC had been issued against Li “as his conduct during the course of the search showed that he was a flight risk”.
Huawei has denied the allegations of non-cooperation. In a statement issued last month, Huawei’s Indian unit said it is fully cooperating with the authorities and has provided the required information and clarifications as requested by the authorities from time to time.