India’s biggest miner has been slapped with an anti-trust case over allegations it colluded with Chinese state-owned company Li-ion to pump millions of tonnes of lithium into the country’s mines.
Li-i Mining Ltd said on Tuesday that the complaint against it and its affiliates was baseless and filed under the Anti-Corruption and Foreign Exchange Act, or CFMEA.
The complaint alleged that Li-ions activities had resulted in “serious and substantial harm” to investors in the mining sector, as well as affecting the national economy.
Li said the company was “disappointed and deeply hurt” by the allegations and said it would appeal the case to the high court.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which is prosecuting the case, said it was too early to comment on the complaint.
“We have not received the complaint from the complainant,” she said.
“The ministry will investigate this matter as per the applicable laws.”
The complaint against Li-is was filed on the eve of the annual session of India’s Parliament and was filed in August 2016.
The company said it had engaged with a private firm that would supply Li-io Technologies with “a full and comprehensive supply agreement”.
“It has been reported that a few thousand tonnes of Li-ia materials are being supplied by a consortium led by the company’s Chinese partner, Li-xiang Group,” the company said in a statement.
“According to our preliminary information, this consortium is engaged in a number of activities which would be illegal if they are to be carried out in accordance with the laws and regulations.”
In a statement, the ministry said it could not comment on pending cases.
“However, we have been notified of the case and will take all necessary action against those guilty of violation of law,” the ministry added.
The Ministry of Minerals has been facing criticism in the past for being slow to take action against Chinese companies that have been accused of abusing local regulations.
Last year, a probe by the ministry found that three of China’s biggest steel producers – China National Offshore Steel Co Ltd, China Metallurgical Steel Corp and China Steel Corp – were involved in a scheme that used fake documents to import raw materials from China.
The steel companies were given temporary bans of up to five years from their operations and were required to pay a penalty of 2.8 per cent of their revenues.
China Metallurgy Steel Co, the largest steel producer in the country, was given a five-year suspension.
In July, China’s top court overturned the suspension of its six largest steel firms and ordered them to repay a total of US$4.8 billion.
The ministry said in September it would set up a special commission to investigate the allegations.
A report released in November by the government’s anti-corruption commission said that the government had “failed to protect the interests of investors” in the steel and coal industries.