India's HCL questioned in phone hacking scandal

The company denies it handled any data on behalf of News International

India's HCL Technologies has been questioned by the U.K. Parliament's Home Affairs Committee inquiring into a phone-hacking scandal, following allegations in Parliament that the outsourcer was involved in destroying data on behalf of News International, the company at the center of the hacking investigation.

The Committee disclosed this week that Keith Vaz , member of Parliament and chairman of the committee, wrote to HCL asking for information on whether News International currently holds or has ever held a contract with HCL, whether HCL holds e-mails for News International within its storage facilities in India, and if News International has ever requested HCL to delete any of the e-mails.

"We must ensure all avenues of inquiry are followed through," Vaz said in a statement on Monday.

HCL, a leading Indian outsourcer, however stands by its earlier position that it does not and never stored any data in India or anywhere else in the world for News International, and therefore the question of deleting e-mails does not arise.

During a conference call on Wednesday in connection with the company's results for the quarter and year ended June 30, Vineet Nayar , HCL's vice chairman and CEO said that News International was a customer of HCL from 2009, and it has waived client confidentiality agreements to enable HCL to participate in the enquiry by the Metropolitan Police for the last two months.

Under a remote infrastructure management contract with News International, HCL manages the datacenter operations for some parts of the business, Nayar said.

HCL did not comment on whether it had access to data on News International servers in the U.K.

The charge about the destruction of data by HCL at its facility in Chennai in south India was first made in Parliament in early July. Allegations surfaced that managers at News International asked HCL to delete emails relating to the phone hacking.

HCL reported revenue of US$963 million [m] in the quarter ended June 30, up by 30.5 percent from the same quarter last year. Profits were up 55.3 percent year-on-year. The company also reported that annual revenues were $3.5 billion [b], up 31 percent from the previous year. Profits for the year were up 35 percent

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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