NEW DELHI: Swedish telecom equipment major Ericsson has petitioned the Supreme Court to arrest Reliance Communications (RCom) chief Anil Ambani over recurring delays in payment of its dues worth Rs 550 crore, and has accused the embattled businessman of engaging in “gross and wilful contempt” of the apex court. The company has said that insolvency proceedings should be initiated against RCom and its spectrum & tower sale deal with Reliance Jio should be stopped “with immediate effect”.

In a fresh petition submitted before the top court, Ericsson alleged that the delays in payment by Anil and his companies have been “wilful, contumacious and persistent”. “The respondents have abused the process of law to the hilt and caused grave damage to the interest of justice… having committed and guilty of contempt of court, be directed to be detained in civil prison unless… (they) purge themselves by making payment of Rs 550 crore along with interest,” Ericsson’s petition states.

Ambani Graph

A spokesperson for RCom declined to comment.

Ericsson has already scaled down its dues towards Anil’s group from Rs 1,600 crore to Rs 550 crore as part of a court-monitored settlement where it was originally promised to be paid by September 30 last year. However, troubles for RCom — which has run up a cumulative debt of nearly Rs 45,000 crore — have been compounding despite Anil striking a deal with elder brother Mukesh’s telecom venture Jio. While the company has received around Rs 5,000 crore through the sale of fiber and media convergence node (MCN) set-up, the bigger deal — estimated at Rs 15,000 crore through sale of spectrum and towers — still hangs in balance over payment of a bank guarantee.

With the bigger deal looking difficult to pass, and money collected from the previous sale parked in an escrow account controlled by the banks, Anil has been unable to pay Ericsson despite giving specific assurances for the same. Ericsson had last year petitioned the Supreme Court to bar Anil and two of his senior executives from leaving the country. Anil’s lawyers have said that they are waiting for the passage of the larger deal before lenders can be paid.

The Swedish company claimed that it is left without any protection even while RCom’s assets have been sold and money received.


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