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Vivo PMLA case: Delhi court reserves order on Lava MD Hariom Rai's bail plea

New Delhi: The Patiala House Court in Delhi on Monday reserved the order on a bail plea moved by Hariom Rai, the Managing Director of Lava International.
Rai was recently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate along with Chinese national Guangwen Kuang alias Andrew, Nitin Garg and Rajan Malik in connection with a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case linked to the Chinese mobile company Vivo.
All the accused are presently in judicial custody in the matter.
"My client has three medical conditions due to which keeping him in jail might be disastrous. Although the doctors in jail are good, keeping him there will worsen his condition," Senior Advocate Vikaram Chaudhari representing Rai submitted.
While opposed to the bail, ED's Special Public Prosecutor Manish Jain argued before the court that they should look at the merits of the case and medical condition differently.
Noting the submissions, Additional Sessions Judge Kiran Gupta reserved the order for January 12.
Recently, Rai moved a bail petition in the trial court stating that the allegations made against him are false and absurd. "He has no direct or indirect control over Vivo's business, nor has he derived any monetary benefit, nor has he engaged in any transaction with Vivo or any entity allegedly related to Vivo, let alone having been associated with any alleged 'proceeds of crime'," the plea said.
Advocate Nitesh Rana, counsel for Rai, further explained that since Vivo China wanted to enter India, the applicant Hariom Rai met with Shen Wei, CEO of Vivo China in the year 2013. At that time, Vivo and the applicant/LAVA were contemplating a joint venture where 25 per cent shares would be held by the applicant/LAVA. However, this eventually never fructified and Vivo decided to independently conduct its business in India.
The plea filed by Advocate Deepak Nagar, further stated that negotiations and business talks between the applicant and the representatives of Vivo China failed and did not meet a fruitful end due to which the applicant stopped pursuing the said opportunity and had nothing to do with Vivo China and/or its representatives after 2014.
Merely because, over the years, the international relations between India and China have deteriorated, it would not mean that the applicant committed an offence at the relevant time when there were, in fact, friendly business relations between the two countries, the plea stated.
According to the ED, certain Chinese shareholders of Grand Prospect International Communication Private Ltd. incorporated the company based on forged identification documents and falsified addresses.
During an enquiry, certain fraudulent activities were found by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The said company was not reported as a subsidiary of Vivo in the official records whereas the said company publicly projects itself to be a subsidiary of Vivo, said ED.
ED further stated that Director and shareholder Zhang Jie used a false driving licence for Director Identification Number(DIN) to give his Shillong Address and also used his fake driving licence to open the bank account.
With the allegations of cheating, an FIR was registered in Police Station Kalkaji, South East Delhi under sections 417/120B/420 IPC and another FIR was registered under sections 417/420/468/471/120B IPC by the Economic Offence Wing, Delhi based on a complaint filed by Manjit Singh, the then Deputy Registrar of Companies, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, NCT of Delhi.
ED further stated that soon after the incorporation of Vivo, India, 19 more companies including GPICPL were incorporated across India, completely controlled by Chinese Nationals. The accused Bin Luo was the founding/first Director of Vivo India, GPICPL and all other 18 entities at the time of their incorporation and the accused Nitin Garg, had assisted in the incorporation of most of the companies of Vivo Group.
According to the ED, raids were conducted on the premises of the accused on October 9 and seized cash amounting to more than Rs 10 lakh and arrested four accused who have been identified as Guangwen Kyang aka Andrew Kuang, the Chinese National, Hariom Rai, the MD of Lava International, Rajan Malik, and Nitin Garg, a Chartered Accountant.
The probe revealed that the PMLA investigation by ED was initiated by registering a money laundering case on February 3, 2022.

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