A US court has allowed foreign investors in Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd to seize more than $87,000 from a bankrupt US satellite firm as part of efforts to recover $1.2 billion in compensation from the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) over the cancellation of a 2005 satellite deal.
US-based Intelsat Service and Equipment LLC owes the ISRO arm, Antrix Corp, $146,457. The firm has shown $87,457 as the amount available for seizure by the three Mauritius-based investors
The bankruptcy proceedings were being carried out at a US federal court for the eastern district of Virginia.
In a recent order, the court rejected a plea by Intelsat to stay the efforts by the Devas investors to seize its assets. Subsequently, on July 29, the court asked Intelsat to hand a cheque for $87,457 to Devas Multimedia America Inc, the US arm of Devas.
The investors — Devas Employees Mauritius, Telecom Devas Mauritius and CC/Devas Mauritius — are attempting to seize the assets linked to Antrix Corp in the US to enforce a $1.2-billion compensation award made in favour of Devas by the International Chamber of Commerce on September 14, 2015 for the cancellation of the satellite deal by India in 2011.
The ICC order was confirmed by the US court for the western district of Washington in October 2020.
In August 2021, a US federal court granted Devas investors the right to find Antrix assets in the Virginia region.
Under the failed 2005 Antrix-Devas deal, ISRO was supposed to lease two communication satellites for 12 years at a cost of Rs 167 crore to Devas. The start-up was to provide multimedia services to mobile platforms in India using the space band or S-band transponders on ISRO’s GSAT 6 and 6A satellites, built at a cost of Rs 766 crore by ISRO.
The UPA government annulled the deal in February 2011 amid the 2G crisis. It cited the requirement of the S-band spectrum for security purposes of the country.
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After the NDA government came to power in 2014, the CBI and the ED were asked to investigate the deal. The cancellation of the deal and subsequent developments have resulted in a legal battle spread across the world between Devas’s foreign investors and Indian authorities linked to the state-run Antrix Corp and ISRO.
The National Company Law Tribunal in India ordered the liquidation of Devas on May 25, 2021, citing fraudulence in its creation. The NCLT order was upheld by the Supreme Court of India on January 17, 2022. The ED filed an application in a Bengaluru special court in June this year to declare the US-based Devas founder and CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan a “fugitive economic offender”.