Devas investors win Canadian lawsuit to seize IAA and Air India funds


NEW DELHI : Three Mauritian entities, which have joined forces with the state-owned Antrix Corp. Ltd to provide wireless broadband services in India, have obtained orders from a Canadian court to seize monies collected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on behalf of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Air India, according to court documents.

AAI and Air India are targeted as they are Indian public sector entities with overseas assets and acting as proxy for the Indian government. The three investors — Devas (Mauritius) Ltd, Telcom Devas Mauritius Ltd and Devas Employees Mauritius Pvt. Ltd. — have won international arbitration awards in their dispute with Antrix Corp. Ltd and the Indian government.

According to a spokesperson for the three entities, more than $ 30 million has been seized to date in the IATA action after winning two favorable orders in Canada in November and December.

IATA, an international trade association headquartered in Montreal, facilitates the payment, by airlines and countries, of air navigation charges and aerodrome charges to aviation service providers around the world, including air navigation authorities such as AAI.

The Canadian court in Montreal issued separate orders on November 24 and December 21 on the pleadings of the shareholders of Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. to enforce arbitral awards against the Indian government.

After the Dec. 21 order, Air India withdrew its inventory from Global Distribution Systems (GDS), used by travel agents to issue tickets.

Meanwhile, the Tata Group, which will take over Air India later this month, has been awarded compensation for earlier legal claims in its shareholders agreement with the government.

The Devas entities are trying to enforce the international arbitral awards they won for the annulment of a satellite capacity rental agreement between Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia and Antrix in 2011. Last year, the National Tribunal for companies ordered the liquidation of Devas Multimedia on a petition filed by Antrix, and an appeal is currently pending in the Supreme Court even as its foreign shareholders pursue the case in global forums.

There were no responses to questions emailed to spokespersons for Air India, the Airports Authority of India, the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office at the time of publication.

The international arbitration was triggered after the cancellation of the Devas-Antrix satellite capacity rental agreement in 2011 by Antrix, citing a “case of force majeure”.

In 2015, the three Mauritius-based Devas shareholders had earned $ 562.5 million in damages plus 18% annual interest in the arbitration. In October 2020, they also obtained an arbitration award of more than $ 111 million in interest, in compensation for the expropriation of 40% of the interest in the satellite / terrestrial communications business owned by Devas, according to information provided. by the three entities. Devas’ lawsuit seeks to enforce only the 2020 arbitration award of more than $ 111 million in interest.

“We will take the Indian government to court around the world to make sure the debts owed to Devas are met. Our action in Canada has resulted in millions of dollars seized by Devas shareholders and represents the first fruits of a globally focused effort to pay, ”Matthew D. McGill, partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and lead counsel for several Devas shareholders, said in a statement.

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