Devas Multimedia shareholders to continue seizing Indian assets abroad

NEW DELHI: Unfazed by the Supreme Court upholding winding up of the company, shareholders of Devas Multimedia will continue to seek seizure of Indian government assets abroad to collect USD 1.2 billion the firm has been awarded by arbitration tribunals for cancellation of a satellite deal but are open for talks to settle the issue, their counsel said.
“The decision by the Supreme Court does not change anything. The Modi government and the Indian courts cannot rewrite the facts. Their flimsy allegations of fraud will never stand up in courts outside of India,” said Matthew D McGill, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and lead counsel for several Devas’ shareholders. “A better approach for the Modi government would be to return to the negotiating table, and continue with settlement talks.”
Devas shareholders are pursuing Indian assets abroad to recover the awards and have got a French court order for freezing Indian properties in Paris and got partial rights over funds maintained by India funds in Canada.
“We have already entered liens or obtained seizure and garnishment orders on tens of millions of dollars in Indian state assets,” a spokesperson for Devas Multimedia said. “We will continue to identify and seize state assets wherever we find them until India returns in good faith to the negotiating table.”
Besides securing a freeze on a Paris property of the Indian government, they have got a Canadian court order for seizure of about USD 23 million that Air India had with IATA, the spokesperson said.
Last week, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the government will use the Supreme Court ruling calling the 2005 Antrix-Devas agreement a fraud to counter seizure of its properties overseas.
“The Modi government’s strategy is not rocket science. They will use the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the NCLT liquidation order to attack Devas, around the globe, however, we’re ready. Courts around the world will see through these sham proceedings,” the spokesperson said.
Antrix Corporation, the government-owned commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed an agreement with Bengaluru-based Devas Multimedia for a 12-year lease of 90 per cent transponder space on two satellites, G-SAT6 and G-SAT6A that were yet to be launched.
Of the 150 MHz of space that ISRO owned in the S-band spectrum, Devas was allowed the use of 70 MHz to launch satellite-based applications on mobile devices. Devas, which had a few former ISRO scientists in its top management, was supposed to pay USD 300 million to Antrix over the 12-year period.
The deal was cancelled in 2011 after allegations of it being a quid pro quo “sweetheart deal” surfaced. In 2014, the CBI and Enforcement Directorate were asked to probe the deal. —PTI

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