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|Lippo seeks to avoid paying US$300 million to Astro|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2012 18:23|
James Riady, 55, Chairman of Lippo Group, Indonesia.
He was barred from America after pleading guilty in 2001 to a 'conspiracy to defraud the US' through illegal contributions to the campaigns of Bill Clinton and other Democrats.
Astro is satisfied that there is no basis whatsoever for any of these allegations, which are consistent with the pattern of behavior of the Lippo Group, where allegations of criminal misconduct are repeatedly raised against Astro, its senior executives and others, in what appears to be an attempt to lend credibility or to provide a basis for the Lippo Group to challenge the enforcement of an Award in favour of Astro for the sum of US$300 million, in Indonesia, and so avoid having to pay Astro.
Astro proposes to commence proceedings in compliance with Indonesian laws, and pursuant to the New York Convention, to obtain an execution order from CJDC to enforce the Award, which will oblige the bailiffs to seize and liquidate the assets of First Media and the Lippo Group in order to satisfy the amounts due to Astro under the Award. These assets include shares held by First Media in PT Link Net, which, on the basis of the CVC investment, is estimated to be worth in excess of USD275 million.
By way of a circular to shareholders in May 2011, AcrossAsia Limited (“AcrossAsia”), a member of the Lippo group of companies and listed on the Growth Enterprise Market of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and the controlling shareholder of First Media, announced that CVC Capital Partners had invested US$275 million into PT Link Net, a subsidiary of First Media in Indonesia. Consequently, the shares in PT Link Net held by First Media are estimated to be worth at least, if not more than, US$275 million. Therefore, First Media, and the Lippo Group, clearly have sufficient assets to discharge their payment obligation to Astro under the Award.
Astro sought, and was granted, a worldwide mareva injunction on 8 July 2011 by the Singapore High Court which would require First Media to declare all of its assets, and also to restrict First Media from disposing any of these assets pending full satisfaction of the Award. The Lippo Group has not complied with these orders and has, instead, appealed against the decision of the Singapore High Court in September 2011.
In February 2010, a tribunal comprising internationally renowned arbitrators, unanimously ruled in favour of Astro and awarded Astro US$300 million in damages, interest and costs (“Award”). The Lippo Group has to date not paid any part of the Award.
In 2005, Astro entered into a joint venture with First Media and certain other affiliates of the Lippo Group, to set up a DTH pay-TV business in Indonesia to be launched by PT Direct Vision, a subsidiary of First Media. The joint venture was not concluded, and pursuant to the dispute resolution process agreed between the parties, Astro commenced arbitration proceedings against Lippo Group under the Singapore International Arbitration Centre Rules to recover approximately US$560 million which it had incurred to establish the pay-TV business for PT Direct Vision.
These reports allege that summonses had been issued to Mr. Marshall. To date, Mr. Marshall and his respective counsel in Indonesia have no knowledge of these summonses, nor have they been provided with any details whatsoever of the arrest warrant that has purportedly been issued against Mr. Marshall other than what has been reported in the media. Moreover none of the Indonesian authorities referred to in the press have approached Astro or Mr Marshall to assist in any investigation.
Astro refers to recent media reports regarding allegations raised against Astro and its Executive Deputy Chairman, Mr. Ralph Marshall. Astro categorically denies any wrong-doing on its part and on the part of Mr. Marshall, and will take all steps necessary to challenge these defamatory allegations against Mr Marshall, including seeking relief available in international law. Astro remains confident that these allegations will be proved to be unsubstantiated and without basis, as had been on previous occasions.