Chinese Nationals Flee India as Probe Into $1.3 Billion Money Laundering at Chinese Tech Firms Progresses

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Two Chinese directors of a leading smartphone maker facing investigation in India have fled the country, according to reports.

The report comes amid raids in the premises of multiple Chinese companies carried out by India's Enforcement Directorate (ED). The Chinese nationals who fled India are the directors of smartphone maker Vivo, which is being probed by the Indian authorities over financial irregularities.

Vivo logo Wikimedia Commons

According tofinancial daily Mint, the Chinese nationals who fled are Vivo directors Zhengshen Ou and Zhang Jie. The officials left the country after the Indian authorities widened searches in as many as 40 locations of the company as part of a probe into alleged money laundering.

Money Laundering

IANS news agency reported that the Chinese nationals became the directors in the Indian entity with fake documents. According to the agency, the Indian authorities are acting on information that money laundering to the tune of more than Rs 10,000 crore (About $1.3 billion) has taken place.

Meanwhile, Vivo, which makes several popular handset models that are widely sold in India, said it is cooperating with the authorities. "As a responsible corporate, we are committed to be fully compliant with laws," a company spokesperson said, according to IANS.

Redmi K30 Pro
Xiaomi Redmi K30 Pro smartphone Xiaomi

Earlier this year, India's Enforcement Directorate seized more than $700 million of funds belonging to Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi. This money lying in Indian bank accounts was seized under the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Continuing Crackdown

Even as the Indian crackdown on financial irregularities at Chinese companies progressed, China said it expects a fair probe. Wang Xiaojian, counsellor and spokesperson at China's Indian Embassy, said 'frequent' investigations into Chinese companies "chill the confidence and willingness of market entities from other countries, including those from China to invest in India".

In 2020, India had announced a massive crackdown on Chinese tech enterprises. The Indian IT ministry said it was banning 59 apps including TikTok, ShareIt, UC Browser, Likee, WeChat, and Bigo Live. The ban was slapped on the premise that they were "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order".

TikTok logo YouTube grab

India again banned 47 more Chinese apps a few months later. This was followed by the ban of 118 Chinese mobile apps in September that year. Again in February this year, India banned more than 50 Chinese apps.

The crackdown on Chinese apps followed India's confrontation with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and the military standoff between the two Asian powers over this.