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Anil Ambani saves himself from jail; settles Rs 550 crore Ericsson dues

Shaleen Agrawal,Ashish Pandey

Anil Ambani has saved himself from possibly going to jail, by paying up Rs 550-crore dues to Swedish equipment maker Ericsson. Reliance Communications has paid the final instalment of about Rs 460 crore to Ericsson, a company spokesperson confirmed to Financial Express Online today — a day before the Supreme Court deadline ends.

Reliance Communications owed Rs 550 crore to Ericsson, per a settlement agreed upon to clear all outstanding dues, which Anil Ambani firm had repeatedly failed to pay. Ericsson had moved the Supreme Court asking to send Anil Ambani to jail for contempt of court.

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The deadline prescribed by the Supreme Court for repayment of dues to Ericsson by RCom was due to expire on 19 March 2019. A failure to repay would mean Anil Ambani facing a three-month jail term, the apex court had said in its 20 February order. RCom had already deposited Rs 118 crore with the Supreme Court per an earlier order. The Supreme Court had asked the remaining amount with interest to be paid in one month.

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Earlier on last Friday, NCLAT had refused to direct India s largest bank SBI to release income tax refund of Rs 260 crore to Reliance Communications. The firm had asked SBI to release the money to raise funds for repaying Rs 550 crore dues to the Swedish equipment maker, in order to comply with a Supreme Court order.

Timeline of RCom-Ericsson case

In 2017, Ericsson moved IBC court against RCom alleging that the Anil Amabni firm hasn’t paid it dues of nearly Rs 1,500 crore after signing a seven-year deal in 2013 to operate and manage its nationwide network.

However, the case moved from NCLT to NCLAT and then to the Supreme Court. The apex court gave the firm two deadlines — September 30 and December 15, 2018 — to repay dues, both of which RCom missed. This led Ericsson to file three contempt petitions against Anil Ambani.