New Delhi, April 4: Fearful of hurting investor sentiment, the government is exploring all legal options to seek exemption for Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee from appearing before a Ghaziabad court in an alleged cheating case.
“Samsung is one of the largest companies of Korea and it has huge presence and investments in India. It sends a very negative message and will definitely adversely impact the investment and business climate,” commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma told reporters.
He said, “The courts have to take a view. I feel such extreme steps will send shockwaves through the corporate world. That should be avoided. The authorities need to be very careful and exercise caution.”
The Supreme Court has directed Lee Kun-hee to appear before a Ghaziabad court in a $1.4-million cheating case filed against him.
The government is seeking legal opinion and could move the Supreme Court to allow a junior official from the company to appear before the trial court, officials said.
According to Sharma, companies function in an executive hierarchical manner and their chairmen should not be summoned in the case of complaints.
Meanwhile, B.D. Park, managing director of Samsung India and and CEO of the company’s South-west Asia operations, met Amitabh Kant, secretary of the department of industrial policy and promotion. (DIPP). He was accompanied by Samsung India deputy managing director Ravinder Zutshi.
According to sources, after meeting the DIPP secretary, Zutshi met commerce secretary Rajeev Kher.
South Korea has big-ticket investment plans for India, which may be hit if diplomatic relations are soured because of the apex court order, commerce ministry officials said.
Business relations between India and Korea have been jinxed in the past by delays in clearances to the $12-billion Posco steel project.
An industrial park near Neemrana in Rajasthan by Samsung and other Korean firms in a joint venture with the Rajasthan State Industrial Development & Investment Corporation could also be put on hold.
Korean investment in India has picked up in recent years and stood at about $3.25 billion at the end of December.
The two-way trade between India and South Korea has reached $19 billion by the end of 2013 with the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement. The two countries have set a new trade target of $40 billion by 2015.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court bench had passed the order on the appeal filed by Lee challenging the arrest warrants issued against him by the Ghaziabad court.
The Allahabad High Court had earlier dismissed his plea following which he had appealed in the apex court.
The order was passed on a complaint filed by New Delhi-based JCE Consultancy against Lee in the Ghaziabad court for allegedly cheating it of $1.4 million.
JCE Consultancy is a maker of coke calcination packages that are used in the aluminium industry.