FIR has been filed against four of the company’s executives, including its India-head Ankit Upadhyay, grievance officer Sriram Grivasan and two directors
Shopee India is operated by Sea Limited, a Singapore-based company that is heavily backed by Chinese firm Tencent
Previously, CAIT has also alleged Shopee’s Chinese connection and demanded a ban on the ecom giant
Controversies have surrounded the ecommerce platform Shopee since its launch in India in 2021. This time, a Lucknow-based consumer has filed an FIR under sections 419 and 420, against Shopee for allegedly selling fake products.
Filed against four of the company’s executives including its India-head Ankit Upadhyay, grievance officer Sriram Grivasan and two directors, the FIR also alleges that the company is of Chinese origin.
According to the plaintiff, Shopee is a ‘Chinese company’ selling Chinese products in the garb of Indian products to ‘innocent consumers’ in India. The plaintiff ordered three branded products — two sunglasses and perfume — all of which were not the original products.
Shopee has stated that it is a Singaporean company, not a Chinese company and that it prohibits the sale of counterfeit items and other products that infringe IP.
Shopee’s Chinese Connection
It is noteworthy that Shopee has been on multiple occasions accused of being a Chinese company. Shopee India is operated by Sea Limited, a Singapore-based company that is heavily backed by Chinese firm Tencent. Tencent has routed its investment in Sea through Huang River Investment Limited and Tencent Holdings Limited.
In the past, too, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has claimed that Shopee was launched in India with the motive to establish illegal control over the retail market in India by using multiple foreign registered corporate entities to mask its true ownership.
The traders’ confederation has also accused Shopee of predatory pricing that will hurt Indian retail. The Delhi High Court has also previously asked the centre’s response on a plea seeking to block ecommerce websites and mobile apps operated by SPPIN India Pvt. Ltd. under the name of Shopee.
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The anti-Chinese sentiments stem after the Indian government restrained the use of over 400 Chinese apps including TikTok and PUBG.
The ecommerce platform Shopee operates primarily in Southeast Asia’s Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. The platform claims to have more than 80 Mn daily active users worldwide.
In August 2021, Shopee launched Shopee India and began a recruitment campaign for vendors to sell on the platform. It also ramped up hiring in the country.
The ecommerce platform differentiates itself by being extremely localised to each of its markets. It offers a wide range of products with time-bound deep discounts.
The CAIT Factor Against Foreign Etailers
It is to be noted that the traders’ body has been at loggerheads with foreign etailers. CAIT has on numerous occasions, written to the CCI, demanding immediate steps for an aggressive investigation into the business model of both Amazon and Flipkart in reference to complaints of dominance and non-competitive business practices.
Calling the ecommerce giant the ‘new edition of East India Company’, CAIT has also pointed out the need for ‘consolidation of the nationalist forces’ as foreign ecommerce companies will adversely affect the country’s economy and retail market.
Founded in 1990, CAIT is an apex trade body representing 80 Mn Indian traders and 40K+ trade associations. It also claims to be the world’s largest non-corporate SME organisation and its main agenda is to promote the welfare of offline and small retailers against the likes of Amazon, Flipkart and now, Shopee.
Apart from global giants like Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart, Shopee also faces stiff competition from Indian tech conglomerates such as Reliance and Tata.