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US allows Devas to seize ISRO/Antrix assets

August 19, 2021

By Chris Forrester

The long-running $1.8 billion legal dispute between Devas Multimedia and Antrix, the commercial arm of India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO), received a major boost for Devas investors from a US federal court.

In an August 16th order, the US federal court in Washington DC, granted permission to a group of Devas investors (CC/Devas Mauritius, Telcom Devas Mauritius and Devas Employees Mauritius Pvt Ltd) to “obtain certain information related to respondent’s assets and asset transfers, both within and outside of the United States, and related to respondent’s relationship to the Government of India and NewSpace.”

NewSpace India is the new name for Antrix.

Devas has already won rulings from assorted legal bodies for $1.3 billion in compensation, plus interest. The compensation was awarded to Devas Multimedia on September 14th 2015, following the cancellation of a deal between Devas Multimedia and Antrix to launch two S-band communication satellites for Devas to facilitate digital multimedia service on mobile and other platforms. The compensation award was confirmed by the US court for the western district of Washington on October 27th 2020.

The new ruling requests Antrix/NewSpace to provide the financial information requested by September 17th, and to “identify and describe all financial and in-kind transfers over $50,000 in each calendar year that Antrix paid to India or NewSpace on or after September 14th 2015, or to any third party on or after November 4th 2020”.

One risk for India is that the investors have their eyes on Indian assets located outside India. One of them, airline Air India, could be targeted and an attachment made of its assets.

“Assuming that intervenors actually recover amounts due in connection with the other award, intervenors might then be precluded from executing the full amount of this judgment to avoid double recovery, whenever that time comes. Until then, intervenors are entitled to discover respondent’s assets, as well as respondent’s relationships with the Government of India and NewSpace,” the US court stated.

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