More reports on: Antrix Corporation , Indian Space Research Organisation, Aerospace, Telecom

Antrx-Devas row: CBI says Devas used false info to sign deal

19 August 2016

A month after The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that India had acted ''unfairly'' and ''inequitably'' in nullifying the Antrix Corporation's satellite deal with US-based Devas Multimedia and awarded it damages worth over $562.5 million for the broken contract, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) says the deal was struck on false information provided by Devas on its technological capabilities.

In its latest chargesheet, CBI has claimed that the deal was bagged on the basis of false claims that Devas has intellectual property rights to a hybrid technology to use S-band spectrum from satellites to deliver multimedia services to users.

The agency also alleged that the deal was done in haste as the company, set up on 17 December 2004, entered into deal with Antrix on 28 January 2015, in just over a month's time.

The CBI named former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair as an accused.

The latest development, which comes after five years of court battle between the government of India and the privately-owned Devas Multimedia and the arbitration award to the US firm, marks a new turn in the long-drawn dispute.

The CBI is now contemplating sending a judicial request to the US for getting details about a firm based there. ''The agency is preparing to seek assistance of the US justice department through its judicial request or letter rogatory (LR) in the case,'' reports quoting CBI sources said.

The agency is also preparing to send judicial requests to Mauritius and Singapore to get details about three firms based there. ''Investigations by the agency have revealed that certain overseas firms, based in Mauritius and Singapore, allegedly paid high premiums to an accused firm in the case for issuance of preference shares,'' sources said.

CBI also alleged that Antrix did not do due diligence to the claims made by the company and even concealed the deal with Devas Multimedia from Space Commission and other "competent authority" when it sought budgetary sanction for building the satellite.

The deal saw Devas Multimedia share price surge from Rs10 per share at the time of inception to Rs1,25,000 after the deal was signed, CBI pointed out.

It claimed that the company also managed to get foreign investment worth Rs579 crore after the deal.

CBI alleged that Antrix was not competent to sign the deal with Devas as the claim was about a new technology, which needed sanction from Department of Space, Space Commission and other functionaries of the government.

The agency has alleged that according to SATCOM policy, the deal should have been executed by Department of Space instead of Antrix.

The FIR filed by CBI alleged that the lease of satellite spectrum, which was given in violation of rules, helped Devas Multimedia make undue gain of Rs578 crore with and corresponding loss to Antrix and Isro.

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