updated 07:30 pm EDT, Wed May 5, 2010
Claims focus on business in India
Hewlett-Packard has been accused of violating customs laws in India, according to a Businessweek report. The local Directorate of Revenue Intelligence claims the company has evaded $323 million in customs duties by underpricing imports.
The federal agency argues that HP failed to fully disclose the pricing mechanism on its imports. The discrepancy allegedly allowed the company to avoid paying the entire amount of duties that would normally apply in such situations.
HP had been permitted to take advantage of India's "Accredited Client Program" to fast-track imports. It remains unclear if the investigation will lead to a temporary or permanent revocation of eligibility for the program.
"If it were to go that far, I think it could then have a significant impact on HP's business because timeframes for getting their equipment in or servicing client needs would go up," said Gartner analyst Partha Iyengar.
Separate reports suggest HP is also under investigation by US, German and Russian authorities over allegations of bribery. The company was accused of sending the equivalent of approximately $10.9 million to Russia's prosecutor office to secure a contract for large numbers of computers. The bribery was allegedly shrouded by a scheme involving shell companies in Caribbean islands and a German partner.
The Indian agency claims HP "voluntarily pre-deposited" 792.5 million rupees (~$17.7 million USD), although the exact reason for the deposit remains unconfirmed. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has completed the initial investigation, which will now be handed off to an "adjudicating authority," according to director general R. Venkataraman.