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Govt asks PSBs to protect dollar assets on Cairn concern: Report

The banks' decision to avoid adding more dollars to their offshore account has roiled India's exchange rate in recent days

Topics
Cairn Energy | RBI | public sector banks

Bloomberg 

cairn, oil and gas
UK-based Cairn can push authorities to impound Indian assets if India declines to honor an arbitration ruling in a $1.2-bn tax dispute, according to a letter the company sent to the Indian High Commission in the UK earlier this year

Indian authorities asked state-run banks to protect their dollar deposits on concern they could be frozen if Plc moves to seize India’s offshore assets as part of a tax dispute, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Lenders aren’t committing to US dollar purchases in the forwards market since this guidance last week, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private deliberations. UK-based can push authorities to impound Indian assets if India declines to honor an arbitration ruling in a $1.2 billion tax dispute, according to a letter the company sent to the Indian High Commission in the UK earlier this year.

The advice from Indian authorities came ahead of a summit on Tuesday between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson.

Cairn had said in March it’s considering three options, including talks with the government, preparation for possible enforcement, and potential to monetise the award, either partially or in full, to a third party. “As yet, no decision has been taken,” a spokesman for the company said Tuesday.

The banks’ decision to avoid adding more dollars to their offshore account has roiled India’s exchange rate in recent days because state-run banks are the usual counterparties who swap rupees into dollars and their absence makes the forward trade more expensive. The one-month USD/INR premium rose to as much as 10% on Tuesday on an annualised basis, from 5.41% on Thursday.

The surge in India’s USD/INR premium has been worsened by an abundance of dollars from IPO-related inflows. The Reserve Bank of India didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment. A call to a finance ministry spokesman outside business hours wasn’t answered.

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First Published: Wed, May 05 2021. 00:18 IST
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