Fix Sistema first, talk OVL later, firm Russia tells India
Sources privy to the discussions between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the Russian side has refused to de-link the Sistema issue from the demand for tax concessions for OVL, the subsidiary through which ONGC invested in Imperial Energy.
Said an official source: “It is difficult to strike a bargain with Russia if no progress is made on issues raised by them. They (Russian side) are acting very tough now and want the Sistema issue resolved on time. They also indicated India could face demand for billions of dollars in compensation if the issue is not sorted out to their satisfaction.”
Sistema Shyam is a 74:26 joint venture between the Russian conglomerate and India's Shyam Group. Sistema had bought into the company when Shyam bagged licences for 21 circles in January 2008 to provide CDMA-based mobile services. The company was among nine firms which had got licences from former telecom minister A Raja. Though the CBI did not charge-sheet Sistema for any irregularity in procuring the licence, the Supreme Court on February 2 cancelled all licences granted by Raja and as a consequence, Sistema lost its licences. The company along with a few