Etisalat sues Vinod Goenka, Shahid Balwa for fraud

Friday, 24 February 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

DUBAI: UAE telecoms operator Etisalat has sued its Indian joint venture partners for fraud, the former monopoly said on Thursday, following the Supreme Court’s recent order to cancel its affiliates licences amid a corruption probe.

Etisalat has launched legal proceedings against Vinod Goenka and Shahid Balwa, top executives at its India partner DB Group, and Majestic Infracon Private Limited, a DB Group company, for fraud and misrepresentation.

Etisalat DB officials were not immediately available for comment.

On Wednesday, Etisalat said it would shut down the operations of Etisalat DB (EDB), in which it owns a 45 percent stake, after the unit’s 15 licences were among 122 the Supreme Court ordered to be scrapped.

Etisalat paid $900 million in 2008 for its stake in Swan Telecom, later renamed Etisalat DB, with Majestic owning 45.7 percent.

“Etisalat’s case is that it was induced into its investment in the company without any disclosure of the matters that are now alleged to have occurred in connection with the obtaining of 2G licences by EDB,” Etisalat said in an emailed statement.

“Those events occurred a year before Etisalat’s investment. Etisalat is facing very significant financial losses on its investment in EDB despite its having no involvement in the 2G licence application or award process and being entirely innocent of any allegations relating to it.”

On February 9, the UAE firm wrote off $827 million relating to Etisalat DB.

Relations between Etisalat and its joint venture partner have been tense for some time. Last July, the Abu Dhabi-based telecom operator said Majestic had brought undisclosed proceedings against it, which it called “wholly baseless”, and the case was later withdrawn.