The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday searched 44 places across India in a money-laundering inquiry against Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo, PTI reported, citing unidentified officials.

The searches are being carried out under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The central agency filed a case based on a first information report by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing against a Jammu and Kashmir-based distributor of Vivo, PTI reported. It was alleged that some Chinese shareholders of the company had forged their identity documents to launder illegally generated funds using shell or paper companies. Some of the proceeds were sent abroad and put in other agencies by evading the Indian tax regime.

In 2020, the Meerut Police had booked Vivo for allegedly assigning the same International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, number to 13,500 phones in India, The Indian Express reported.

IMEI is a 15-digit code used to identify smartphones. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in 2017 asked all smartphone companies to have a unique identity number. A violation of this norm could lead to three years of imprisonment.

Vivo is the second Chinese company that the Enforcement Directorate has acted against this year.

In April, the central agency seized Rs 5,551.27 crore from the bank accounts of mobile manufacturing company Xiaomi Technology India under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999.

Xiaomi India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the China-based Xiaomi group. In April, Enforcement Directorate officials questioned Xiaomi group Global Vice President Manu Kumar Jain.