Cairn Energy files US case over $1.2bn India award

By Mark McSherry

Edinburgh-based international oil and gas company Cairn Energy has filed a case in a US district court to enforce a $1.2 billion arbitration award it won in a tax dispute against the Government of India, according to a Reuters report that cites a court document.

In December, an arbitration body awarded the Edinburgh firm damages of more than $1.2 billion plus interest and costs.

The tribunal ruled that India breached an investment treaty with the UK and said the Government of India was liable to pay.

Cairn asked the US court to recognise and confirm the award, including payments due since 2014 and interest compounded semi-annually, according to the February 12 filing seen by Reuters.

The case marked a first step in Cairn’s efforts towards recovering its dues, potentially by seizing Indian assets if the government did not pay, a source with knowledge of the arbitration case told Reuters.

“If Cairn wins the case, it will be a step towards attaching and seizing Indian assets overseas, especially in the US,” the source told Reuters.

Reuters reported last month that Cairn has been identifying India’s overseas assets, including bank accounts and even Air India planes or Indian ships, that could be seized in the absence of a settlement.

Cairn declined to comment but pointed to a February 9 Twitter post where it said chief executive Simon Thomson was looking forward to meeting India’s Finance Minister in Delhi next week.

“We would request, along with others, that the Indian government move swiftly to adhere to the award that has been given,” Thomson said in the video posted on Twitter by Cairn.

“It is important for our shareholders who are global financial institutions and who want to see a positive investment climate in India.

“I am sure that in working together with the government we can swiftly draw this to conclusion and reassure those investors.”

India’s finance and external affairs ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cairn aims to enforce the award under international arbitration rules, commonly called the New York Convention, and recover losses caused by India’s “unfair and inequitable treatment of their investments,” the court filing showed.

The Edinburgh company has registered its claim against India in the Netherlands and France, telling regulators in the two countries that they may receive court orders to seize of some Indian assets, and the firm was preparing to do the same in Canada and United States, Reuters reported last month.