Tuesday, 18 February, 2020


Anil Ambani Held in Contempt, Jail Term if Ericsson Not Paid Dues

Indian billionaire told to pay debt to Ericsson – or go to jail Anil Ambani Held in Contempt, Jail Term if Ericsson Not Paid Dues
Conrad Doyle | 20 February, 2019, 18:13

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani and other two directors guilty of contempt of court.

The apex court said Ambani and the others will have to purge contempt by paying Rs 453 crore to Ericsson in four weeks.

The Swedish firm signed a deal in 2014 to manage and operate RCom's network and past year approached the court over the unpaid dues.

To say that Reliance did not take advantage is fully incorrect, the apex court ruled.

It directed that Rs 118 crore already deposited by Reliance Group in the apex court registry be disbursed to Ericsson within a week.

The order in the case was reserved by a division bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran.

Ambani had told the top court that with the failure of its assets sale deal with elder brother Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio his company has entered insolvency proceedings and is not in control of the funds.

"Unconditional apology by Reliance can't be accepted given the attitude of the deponent to the highest court of the land", the judgement reportedly stated. The Anil Ambani-led company denied the charge.

As part of this out-of-court deal, it appears Ericsson agreed to settle for being paid less (roughly Rs 550 crore) even though it claimed by that time its total dues were over Rs 1,500 crore.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Ambani then countered that no contempt of court was made by Ambani. Reliance Communications fell 6.67% on the BSE by noon to trade at Rs 5.60 per share.

Ambani, Seth and Virani were present in the courtroom. Last week, the Supreme Court was forced to dismiss two registrars - whose job it is to upload orders on the SC website - for deliberately changing the wording in a document in order to prevent Ambani from making a personal appearance in court.

Last month, the top court had issued a notice to Ambani seeking a response to the contempt plea filed against the non-clearance of dues.

In 2014, Ericsson India had signed a seven-year deal to operate and manage RCom's nationwide telecom network. Ericsson India had alleged that RCom had not been paid dues of over 1,500 crore.

Before the expiry of the said date, Reliance once again filed an application for extension of the deadline, but the same was withdrawn on December 14 after it realized that the Court was not inclined to entertain the application.

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