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End game: Ericsson seeks auction of Anil Ambani’s assets for disobedience of Supreme Court orders

Indu Bhan

Ericsson India on Tuesday filed another contempt application seeking freezing and auctioning of personal assets of Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani and others for willfull and malicious disobedience of the Supreme Court s orders that asked him to repay dues worth `550 crore to the Swedish telecom equipment maker.

The apex court bench led by justice RF Nariman is likely to hear the matter on February 12, the day when Anil Ambani and Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratel chaiperson Chhaya Virani are supposed to be present before the apex court.

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The SC had last month sought response from Ambani and others on the Swedish telecom equipment manufacturer s plea seeking that the chairman be detained in civil prison and restrained from travelling abroad unless the payment is made. After RCom failed to pay for its supplies procured from Ericsson in 2014, the latter initiated insolvency proceedings against it before NCLT to recover Rs 1,150 crore. Subsequently, the two parties made an out of court settlement by which RCom was required to pay Rs 550 crore.

Ericsson in its fresh plea said that Ambani, Seth and Virani have willfully and deliberately breached the undertakings of August 9 given to the SC and they should be restrained from leaving the country. It said that these three persons should declare their total unencumbered assets directly or indirectly within India and abroad and their personal assets may be frozen and sold for the recovery of its dues of `550 crore.

It also wants to restrain Anil Ambani from dealing with his assets till he brings Rs 550 crore with interest at the rate 12 percent per annum payable from September 30.

Besides, the company wants a direction to all the alleged contemnors including SBI, the lead bank of the joint lenders forum, to file an affidavit giving details of the amount received from sale of assets of the three companies and the current status certified by a chartered accountant post settlement dated May 30.

Direct the SBI to bring the amount due and payable so as to purge itself of the contempt any further, the application stated, while seeking stay on the proceedings pending before the NCLAT.

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The Swedish firm said that RCom application before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has been filed with a dishonest intention to frustrate the orders of the SC including on contempt petition and to try and get out of the undertakings solemnly given to the SC. The entire purpose of the proceedings is to take the company into voluntary winding up and to obtain the order for moratorium so as to prevent the company from making the payment pursuant to the undertakings given to the court.

RCom had on Friday said that it planned to move NCLT for fast tracking of its debt resolution plan, conceding that it had failed to complete its spectrum sale to Reliance Jio due to the telecom department s refusal to clear it and the matter being dragged to various courts. RCom board expects substantial unsustainable debt and liabilities to stand extinguished under the NCLT process, it said.