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NCLAT Pulls Up RCom Lenders

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Monday pulled up SBI, the lead lender of debt-ridden Reliance Communications (RCom), along with others for giving a ‘false impression’ of recovering Rs. 37,000 crore from selling assets of the telecom company to Reliance Jio.

A bench headed by Chairman, Justice S. J. Mukhopadhaya, came down heavily on the lenders, especially State Bank of India (SBI), and asked why “proceedings against them should not be initiated” for this.

“You have failed. JLF (Joint Lenders’ Forum) has failed. No sale took place,” the bench observed.

According to the bench, the lenders gave a “golden outlook” to the NCLAT on recovering about ₹37,000 crore from sale of assets but nothing happened.

“You clapped with RCom and claimed that you would recover around Rs. 37,000 crore from sale of assets to Reliance Jio… you had earlier cited losses of crore per day,” said NCLAT. After failing to get money from assets, creditors are now trying to recover Rs. 260 crore which the company has got from the Income Tax (I-T) refunds, it added.

The NCLAT was hearing the plea of RCom which had approached it seeking waiver of the moratorium placed by it on February 4.

However, its financial creditors are opposing its plea to release the I-T refunds to clear the dues of Ericsson, to whom the company has to pay Rs. 550 crore.

The NCLAT asked the lenders why the order of the Supreme Court, directing it to release the I-T refunds should not be implemented.

“Why not give effect to the orders of the Supreme Court? Sending some one (Anil Ambani) to jail will not solve the problem before us,” it said.

The NCLAT had asked all the lenders to file a two-page note over that and directed to list the matter on Tuesday.

On February 20, the Supreme Court held RCom chairman Anil Ambani along with two others guilty of contempt of court for wilfully violating its order by not paying Rs. 550-crore dues to Ericsson.

The apex court had said they faced a three-month jail term if remaining ₹453 crore was not paid to the telecom equipment maker in four weeks.

Earlier, on February 4, the appellate tribunal had said that until further orders of the NCLAT or the Supreme Court, no one can sell, alienate, or create third party rights over RCom’s assets.

“Until further orders, the appellants, corporate debtor (RCom), respondent (Ericsson India), guarantors or any third party will not sell, transfer or alienate any moveable or immoveable property of RCom nor invoke any guarantee or mortgage or any other instrument without prior permission ..,” the tribunal had said.―The Hindu

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