As part of a long-running tax dispute, UK oil major Cairn Energy has been granted the authority to take Indian state assets in France worth more than €20 million (£17 million).
As Cairn raises pressure on the Indian government over disputed tax charges, a French tribunal has ordered the freezing of roughly 20 homes in downtown Paris.
Cairn stated that it desired an “amicable settlement” in the $1.2 billion (£870 million) dispute.
When the Indian government receives notification from the French court, sources said it would seek “legal remedies.”
Cairn Energy, an Edinburgh-based oil and gas exploration company, is disputing an Indian government tax demand from 2014 when the country’s tax authority seized a 10% stake in Indian operations that Cairn was attempting to sell.
Cairn brought the case to an international tribunal, which in December 2020 awarded the corporation $1.7 billion in fees and damages. The Indian government has filed an appeal.
However, in the absence of a settlement, the energy company has begun identifying assets that it may seize, including those belonging to Air India.
According to Cairn, the French court’s decision is “a crucial preparatory step to acquiring possession of the properties and ensures that the proceeds of any sales are due to Cairn.”
“Our strong preference remains an agreed, peaceful settlement with the government of India to bring this matter to a conclusion,” a Cairn Energy spokeswoman said. “To that end, we have offered a thorough series of offers to them since February this year.”
“However, in the absence of such a resolution, Cairn Energy must pursue all legal options available to safeguard the interests of its overseas shareholders.”
The Indian government did not respond to requests for comment, but sources claimed it had “not received any notification, order, or communication in this regard from any French court.”
“We are attempting to ascertain the facts, and should such an order is received, the Indian government would take necessary legal measures in collaboration with its counsels,” according to the sources.
The government of India “will strongly defend its case,” according to the sources, who added that the government filed an application in The Hague Court of Appeal on March 22 to set aside the international tribunal’s verdict.