Fresh legal woes in Delhi
Vodafone’s Indian offshoot looks set for a new legal row after being accused of stealing a local firm’s 65,000-strong customer base. In a dispute that goes back to 2007, SIM card provider Matrix Cellular claims Vodafone “misrepresented” the facts when they were first given to the country’s Department of Telecoms and a separate appeals tribunal. At the time it was claimed SIMs were rented in bulk to Matrix, circumventing how phones subscribers are meant to be registered for corporate tax purposes. But Matrix has insisted it did nothing illegal and acted at all times with Vodafone’s written consent.
Vodafone has yet to comment on the latest allegations, though last month it terminated its contract with Matrix – leading to fresh claims by the latter that, without any service connections, the UK-based operator had effectively hijacked its customer base.
Now a court in Delhi has issued notices to senior executives at Vodafone, in an action that could leaded all the way back to Britain.
The legal row is the latest to have hit Vodafone’s Indian operations. For the past six years it has been embroiled in a £1.6 billion tax dispute with the Indian government relating to Vodafone’s £6.9 billion acquisition of Hutchison Whampoa’s 67 per cent stake in what is now Vodafone India.