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Business

Cairn secures French court order to seize Indian properties in Paris

File photo of Cairn India’s oil and gas exploration plant in Barmer, Rajasthan. (Money Sharma/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shilpa Sharma

BRITAIN’S Cairn Energy Plc secured a French court order to seize some 20 Indian state-owned properties in Paris to recover a part of the $1.72 billion (£1.2bn) arbitration award from New Delhi.

The sum was awarded to Cairn Energy last year by an international tribunal over a tax dispute with India.

The British energy major has identified $70bn (£50.8bn) of assets around the world including buildings and Air India aircraft, which it may try to seize as long as the Indian government refuses to pay the arbitration award, according to a report by the Financial Times.

Last month, Cairn filed a lawsuit in a US court pleading that Air India is controlled by the Indian government so much that they are ‘alter egos’, therefore the airline should be held liable for the arbitration award.

The energy company also plans to target other overseas assets of state-owned firms and banks to recover the amount due from the Indian government.

The company’s asset freeze application in Paris is the first to succeed.

The company said it would transfer the ownership of 20 properties valued at more than €20 million (£17m).

Meanwhile, the finance ministry clarified on Thursday (8) that it has not received any order from any French court and will take appropriate legal remedies after it gets an order.

“There have been news reports that Cairn Energy has seized/ frozen State owned property of Government of India in Paris. However, Govt. of India has not received any notice, order or communication, in this regard, from any French Court,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Government is trying to ascertain the facts, and whenever such an order is received, appropriate legal remedies will be taken, in consultation with its Counsels, to protect the interests of India,” it added.

In December, a three-member international arbitration tribunal overturned levy of retrospective taxes on Cairn and ordered India to refund shares sold, dividend confiscated and tax refunds withheld to recover such taxes.

On March 22, 2021, India filed an application to set aside the December 2020 international arbitral award in The Hague Court of Appeal.

“Government of India will vigorously defend its case in Set Aside proceedings at The Hague,” finance ministry said.

It further said that the chief executive officer and the representatives of Cairn have approached the Indian government for discussions to resolve the matter.

“…the government remains open for an amicable solution to the dispute within the country’s legal framework,” it added.

Cairn also said it is looking an amicable settlement.

“Our strong preference remains an agreed, amicable settlement with the Government of India to draw this matter to a close, and to that end, we have submitted a detailed series of proposals to them since February this year,” it said.

However, in the absence of such a settlement, the company said it must take all necessary legal actions to protect the interests of its international shareholders.

Eastern Eye

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