Amazon has also accused Reliance of acting as an accomplice in the case
There are no registered lease deeds entered by the FRL and Reliance, Amazon alleged
In the latest petition, Amazon has questioned FRL’s ‘leave and license’ agreements with Reliance Projects and Property Management Services Ltd
Future Retail Limited (FRL) has been accused of placing false statements before various courts, said Amazon in a petition filed before the Supreme Court. Even after the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) barred FRL from proceeding with its Reliance deal, it made sub-lease arrangements with the multinational conglomerate to operate at least 835 retail stores under Big Bazaar, the ecommerce giant alleged in its petition.
According to a LiveMint report, FRL has been alleged for pursuing an ‘elaborate and orchestrated fraud’ to secure a favourable verdict. Amazon has also alleged that FRL secretly entered into arrangements with Reliance to alienate its retail stores in favour of the Mukhesh Ambani-led company to ensure the challenged transaction goes through even before NCLT’s final order.
In one of India’s largest corporate battles, Amazon even published a ‘public notice’ recently in major Indian newspapers accusing FRL and Reliance of indulging in fraudulent practices, saying the Indian firms did not comply with court orders.
“FRL has not shown any document to prove that December 2020 January 2021 onwards, the lessors of the (Big Bazaar) stores’ premises began terminating the leases on account of non-payment of lease rentals by FRL …In fact, the purported surrender deeds filed by FRL demonstrate that lease deeds were being surrendered voluntarily and not on account of any failure to pay lease rentals,” the petition read as quoted by Mint.
Further, Amazon went on to add that there are no registered lease deeds entered by the landlords and Reliance or between FRL and Mukesh Ambani-owned group. Subsequently, the ecommerce company also added that the MDA group is an accomplice to the ‘orchestrated fraud’ committed by the courts and Indian statutory authorities.
The Amazon-FRL-Reliance saga started when the INR 24,713 Cr sale of Future Group’s retail assets to the RIL was announced in August 2020. Immediately after the announcement, Amazon objected to the deal claiming that it violated the terms and conditions of the ecommerce company’s stake acquisition in Future Coupons.
Amid the ongoing battle, FRL recently alleged that Amazon has successfully destroyed an INR 26,000 Cr company. The company also informed the Supreme Court on April 1 that it is barely ‘hanging by a thread’. Its bank accounts are frozen and it is even unable to pay rent, senior advocate Harish Salve appearing for Future Retail submitted before the court.
In the latest petition, Amazon has questioned FRL’s ‘leave and license’ agreements with Reliance Projects and Property Management Services Ltd. While FRL entered the agreements in regards to certain stores, it did not enter into any agreement for the remaining stores.
“This is an incredible statement as this means that a listed entity (FRL) which operates India’s second-largest offline retail business entered into arrangements with MDA Group that operates India’s largest offline business, without even entering into formal agreements for operating such premises,” Amazon alleged.