CAIRN Energy is set to take ownership of properties worth around £17 million in Paris from the Indian Government in the latest twist in a bitter tax dispute.

The Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm is seeking recovery of $1.7 billion (£1.2bn) an international tribunal said the Indian Government should pay to the company, but which the administration has failed to hand over.

The move to take control of the properties in Paris is the latest stage in a campaign by Cairn to seize assets owned by the Indian Government around the world.

The company has taken action in a range of countries with a focus on high-value assets, including the government’s stake in Air India.

The dispute started in 2014, when the government tried to impose a $3.2bn tax bill on Cairn. It concerns events leading up to the flotation of Cairn’s former subsidiary in India in 2007.

After Cairn repeatedly insisted it had paid all taxes due, the matter eventually ended up before an international tribunal at the Hague.

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Cairn announced in December that the tribunal concerned had ruled unanimously that India had breached its obligations to the company under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty. The $1.7bn total award includes $1.2bn damages plus interest and costs.

A spokesperson for the company said yesterday: “Our strong preference remains an agreed, amicable settlement with the Government of India to draw this matter to a close, and to that end we have submitted a detailed series of proposals to them since February this year. However, in the absence of such a settlement, Cairn must take all necessary legal actions to protect the interests of its international shareholders.”

Cairn Energy’s chief executive Simon Thomson has held out the prospect that it could make significant payouts to investors if it receives the money it is seeking from the Indian Government.

The company made a successful application to the Tribunal judiciaire de Paris, to freeze 20 residential properties owned by the Government in the centre of the city. The order prepares the way for Cairn to take ownership of the properties. It ensures that the proceeds from the sale of any of the properties would go to the company.

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Cairn made big finds in India under the leadership of its founder, former rugby internationalist Sir Bill Gammell. It has shifted its focus to other countries, including Israel and Mexico. The London-listed company has a stock market capitalisation of around £750m.