NCLAT declines Reliance Communication’s plea for tax refunds to Ericsson

New Delhi: Problems for the Anil Ambani’s debt-hit Reliance Communication (RComm) do not seem ending with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on Friday refused to direct State Bank of India to release Rs 2.6 billion of tax refunds of RComm to Ericsson India.

The fund transfer in question could have been a big respite for Anil Ambani as a failure in paying Rs 4.53 billion to Ericsson by March 19 could send Ambani behind the bars.

The tax refund is lying in escrow accounts with lenders. Lenders to the company, led by SBI, had agreed that the money would lie in a trust and retention account, and when this account was created, the company had agreed that banks would have the first right over the funds.

In its order, the appellate tribunal noted that as the Supreme Court was seized of the case, it had decided to refrain from passing any orders, and Reliance Communications could move the Supreme Court seeking relief. “(we are not) passing any direction to refund any amount to any one or other party, till some order is passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” the appellate tribunal said.

Reliance Communications; dues to Ericsson arose out of a settlement reached on May 30, when the beleaguered telecom company had agreed to pay 5.5 bln to the Swedish equipment supplier by Sep 30, in lieu of a default of about 12 bln rupees by the Indian company. However, the company failed to pay the money, saying that its sale of spectrum had not gone through. On Feb 20, the Supreme Court, while observing that Reliance Communications had wilfully desisted to pay.

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