Tax fight escalates, French Court reportedly allows Cairn to seize Indian properties in Paris

A French court has permitted Cairn Energy to freeze several India-owned assets in Paris toward the settlement of the international arbitration order, the Financial Times reported.

This comes following India’s protracted refusal to abide by the arbitration order that asked the Indian government to pay Cairn $1.2bn in damages, plus interest and costs.

The order allows Cairn to take over 20 properties valued at more than 20 million euros, including those in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, the report quoted the company as saying.

The French court, Tribunal Judiciaire de Paris, on June 11 agreed to Cairn’s application to freeze (through judicial mortgages) residential real estate owned by the Government of India in central Paris. The legal formalities for the same was completed on Wednesday evening, PTI reported citing people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Cairn is unlikely to evict the Indian officials residing in those properties. But the government cannot sell them after the court order. At the end of 2020, the award amounted to $1.7 billion. The Indian government had appealed against the award.

In the wake of India’s refusal to go by the award, Cairn had moved courts in the  UK, UK, Netherlands, Canada, France, Singapore, Japan, UAE, and the Cayman Islands to get the case registered and recognized.

The feud with Cairn goes back six years. It had begun when the Indian government demanded capital gains tax of Rs 10,200 crore plus interest and penalty for an asset restructuring that the company did at India’s arm in 2006, ahead of the listing of its share in 2007.