devas: Ready for settlement talks with govt but our fight in foreign courts to go on: Devas – Times of India

Days after the Supreme Court ordered the winding up of Bengaluru-based startup Devas Multimedia, promoters of the company, which had been fighting a legal case against Isro’s commercial arm Antrix, are “ready for negotiations” with the Indian government but will continue their fight for the seizure of the Indian state assets abroad to seek compensation for the cancelled satellite deal, a Devas spokesperson said.
Reacting to the January 17 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the NCLAT order to liquidate the company, Matthew D McGill, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and lead counsel for Devas shareholders, according to an agency report, 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.” However, he said, “A better approach for the Modi government would be to return to the negotiating table, and continue with settlement talks.”
International arbitration tribunals had awarded the company a compensation of $1.2 billion for the cancelled satellite deal with Antrix and on the basis of those awards the company has been seeking seizure of Indian government assets abroad by pursuing legal cases in Canada, France and the US. Devas shareholders have been allowed by a Canada court in Quebec province to seize 50% of Air India funds, estimated to be around $23 million, lying with global airlines body IATA and have got a French court order for freezing an upscale apartment in Paris that houses India’s deputy chief of mission and is valued at €3.8 million.
“We have already entered liens or obtained seizure and garnishment orders on tens of millions of dollars in Indian state assets. We will continue to identify and seize state assets wherever we find them until India returns in good faith to the negotiating table,” the Devas spokesperson said.
Asked if Devas shareholders were following the path of UK’s Cairn Energy, which too identified Indian assets abroad to seize them in order to seek compensation from India, the company’s spokesperson said, “The Cairn case has nothing to do with Devas. Cairn dropped their challenges as part of their settlement with the government. Devas shareholders will continue to enforce the arbitration judgements until they are paid.”
A day after the Supreme Court ruling, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government would use the Supreme Court order to fight against Devas investors’ attempt to seize Indian assets abroad so that the “fraud doesn’t get away” and would fight till the last to “save the taxpayers’ money”.
While writing the judgment against Devas and its investors, Supreme Court judge Ramasubramanian, “We do not know if the action of Antrix in seeking the winding up of Devas may send a wrong message to the community of investors. But allowing Devas and its shareholders to reap the benefits of their fraudulent action, may nevertheless send another wrong message namely that by adopting fraudulent means and by bringing into India an investment in a sum of Rs 579 crore, the investors can hope to get tens of thousands of crores of rupees, even after siphoning off Rs 488 crore.”
As per the January 2005 agreement, Antrix had agreed to build, launch and operate two satellites — Gsat-6 and Gsat-6A — and lease out 90% of the satellite transponder capacity to Devas, which had planned to use it to offer hybrid satellite and terrestrial communication services throughout India. However, the government had to cancel the deal in 2011 when it found allegations of manipulation in the deal.
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