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HP taps tribunal for early hearing

New Delhi, Jan. 1 (PTI): US-based computer maker Hewlett-Packard’s India unit has approached the customs tribunal for an early hearing and extension of the stay on a case of alleged $386-million duty evasion.

The case relates to an investigation by the directorate of revenue intelligence. The directorate charged that Hewlett-Packard India Sales Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of HP, had underpaid customs duties while importing products and spare parts into India.

“In December 2013, HP India filed applications before the customs tribunal, seeking early hearing of appeals as well as extension of the stay already granted until the final disposition of the appeals. These applications are currently pending before the customs tribunal,” HP said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

In 2010, the directorate issued showcause notices to HP India, seven current HP employees and a former HP employee in the case.

It sought to recover about $370 million as well as penalties, added the filing submitted earlier this week.

In April 11, 2012, the Commissioner of Customs, Bangalore, had issued an order on the products showcause notice, affirming certain duties and penalties against HP India and others of about $386 million.

Nine days later, the Commissioner issued an order on the parts-related showcause notice, affirming duties and penalties against HP India and certain named individuals of about $17 million. Of this, HP India deposited $7 million.

After the order, HP India deposited another $3 million in connection with the parts-related showcause notice to avoid penalties.

HP India had filed appeals against the commissioner’s orders before the customs tribunal along with applications for the waiver of the pre-deposit of the remaining demand amounts as a condition for hearing the appeals.

The customs department also filed cross-appeals in the tribunal.

In January last year, the customs tribunal ordered HP India to deposit an additional $24 million against the products order, which the company deposited in March 2013.

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