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Antrix-Devas deal: Devas paid us Rs 4 crore, say US lobby firms

The controversial deal, signed in 2005 with Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

Written by Johnson TA | Bengaluru | Published: August 24, 2016 4:13 am

BENGALURU-BASED space communications technology start-up Devas Multimedia spent nearly $660,000 (Rs 4 crore approx) on lobbying with the US authorities after the Antrix-Devas deal was cancelled by the UPA government in 2011, it has emerged.

The controversial deal, signed in 2005 with Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate.

Devas Multimedia paid two American firms — Hogan Lovells US LLP and Williams and Jensen PLLC — a total of $660,000 through its US subsidiary, Devas Multimedia America Inc., to lobby with the US Department of Commerce and state and trade representatives for the Antrix-Devas deal, according to public disclosures made by the two firms to the US House of Representatives.

The firms have stated that they had been paid for lobbying over two issues: “Foreign direct investment and government procurement issues relating to a satellite communications contract in India” and “trade and investment issues related to India”.

The disclosures are public documents accessible online.

According to the firms, Devas Multimedia engaged the services of Hogan Lovells in 2011 — shortly after the Antrix-Devas deal was annulled in February 2011. The government had said that nearly 70 MHz (megahertz) spectrum given by ISRO to Devas was needed for security purposes.

The lobbying records show that Hogan Lovells received $140,000 from Devas Multimedia after its services were engaged in the second quarter of the 2011 fiscal. The firm also disclosed receiving $240,000 in 2012 and $150,000 in 2013 from Devas Multimedia.

The records show that Williams and Jensen was engaged in 2013, and received $130,000 that year.

The documents show that the lobbying was being done for “Devas Multimedia America Inc.f/k/a [formerly knows as] Devas Multimedia Pvt Ltd’’.

There are no disclosures made for lobbying in the US for Devas after the third quarter of 2013.

Among others, the CBI is investigating transfer of funds from Devas Multimedia’s India entity to a US subsidiary, and the use of these funds.

According to 2009-10 annual reports for Devas Multimedia and its wholly owned subsidiary Devas Multimedia America,

Rs 68.78 crore was moved from India to the US subsidiary in 2008 and 2009.

The RBI documents for clearances accorded for outward FDI for the 2007-2011 period show Devas Multimedia invested more than $12 million in its subsidiary.

Devas Multimedia is known to have had strong support from US authorities over the years. Former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, former US National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and the head of the US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue Sr were reported to have lobbied on behalf of Devas with the Indian government when the deal was alive. The company had high-profile foreign investors such as Columbia Capital and Telecom Ventures from the US and Deutsche Telekom.

After the deal was cancelled in 2011, Devas approached international courts to challenge the decision. A tribunal of International Chamber of Commerce in Paris and the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal at the Hague ruled in favour of Devas in September 2015 and July this year, respectively.

On August 11, the CBI filed a chargesheet against four officials of Devas Multimedia, including its US-based CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan, and four former officials from ISRO and Antrix Corporation, including former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair.


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  1. P
    Aug 24, 2016 at 11:04 am
    Lobbying firms are legal enies in USA and they disclose their receipts ,expenditure and purpose for which the funds are received unlike our political parties in India which refuse to disclose their donations by companies obviously for influence the policies etc.All political parties must disclose their receipts and to be audited and should be only through banks so that they are transparent to the people
    1. R
      Aug 24, 2016 at 5:59 am
      All in ISRO knew that Ex-ISRO Chief Mr.G.Madhavan Nair is good in lobbying and well known FRAUD. Mr.Nair became ISRO Chief through lobbying when BJP was in power. Note that Mr.Nair is not having any outstanding academic or research accomplishment to become ISRO Chief. From his biodata one can easily see that throughout his career Mr.Nair was Manager/Director/Chief and he never ever be a Scientist. This observation is por among scientific community. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Once Dr.Kalam became president Mr.Nair acted like a KING and exploited his position under the pretext of his old ociation with Dr.Kalam and further started fooling Prime Minister and loobying with Chief Justice of India Mr.K.G.Bala Krishnan. Once UPA in power Mr.Nair acted like a congress man and got undeserving service extension. Mr.Nair's close circle reveals.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Many talented Scientists left ISRO due to the criminal activities of Mr.Nair.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Mr.Nair cheated the entire world through MOON mission gimmik. Actually there were no scientific evidences on MIP landed on the moon surface. But Mr.Narir through his US lobby conducted an high profile TV show with a few US Professors/Scientists for praising the MOON mission. Find out how much money paid for them!!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;A former government space scientist Dr.Stewart Nozette who has been sentenced to 13 years in US prison after admitting he tried to sell space and defence secrets to Israel in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation. Note that Ex-NASA Scientist Dr.Stewart Nozette was ociating with Mr.Nair for Indian MOON mission!!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;ANTRIX-DEWAS case is not a surprise news to the scientific community. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Delaying of GSLV is also in doubt for helping the foreign launchers using Indian money...lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;So NO surprise on CBI finding. Note that those days Mr.Nair was in good relationship with all security advisers of PM. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Why CBI is further delaying for taking Mr.Nair into custody for interrogation and for facts finding.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Good day.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Jai Hind.