Home Business Anil Ambani tells UK court his ‘net worth is zero’ despite fleet...

Anil Ambani tells UK court his ‘net worth is zero’ despite fleet of cars, private jet and yacht

SHARE


LONDON: Former billionaire Anil Ambani, once the sixth richest man in the world, declared to a UK court on Friday his “net worth was zero” and that he was bankrupt.
Three Chinese banks — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China — are suing Ambani in the high court here for more than $700 million (over Rs 5,000 crore) , including interest, for defaulting on a loan they gave Reliance Communications (RCom) — now in insolvency proceedings — in February 2012, which RCom defaulted on. The banks claim Ambani provided a personal guarantee for the loan, but Ambani disputes this.
Ambani narrowly avoided a summary judgment against him in December 2019 when Justice Waksman said his evidence was “inexplicably incomplete, implausible and highly unlikely”.
At Friday’s hearing, at which Ambani’s son Anmol was present, the banks asked the court to make a conditional order requiring him to pay into court $656 million (about Rs 4,690 crore) ahead of the trial. But the judge decided that he must pay $100 million (Rs 715 crore) into court.
Justice Waksman heavily criticised Ambani’s statements, saying they were packed with “falsehoods” and that Ambani had “clearly lied”. He said Ambani had put a misleading spin on his brother’s role in bailing him out last year and also spoke of “irregular corporate activities” within the Reliance group.
“He clearly has more assets or income than he is letting on. The family members can and will in my view assist and bearing in mind what they can afford, $100 million must be paid into court,” Waksman said. “It would be absurd if Mukesh said he could not afford to lend the money given the size of his fortune. This is an extremely wealthy family who have helped each other in the past. I don’t accept his own available assets are as limited as he says.”
Ambani told the commercial court he would be “unable to raise any finance from external sources” to comply with any conditional order, despite being the brother of Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, who the court heard had wealth estimated at $55 billion to $57 billion (Rs 3,93,000 crore to Rs 4,07,000 crore). He claimed that because of the loss of his telecom empire, he was completely broke and insolvent.
Justice Waksman said: “On your case he is bankrupt. Has he filed for bankruptcy in India? Has anyone done a search? I would expect someone to have done so. I want to find out what is going on.”
To which Robert Howe QC, representing Ambani, alongside Harish Salve QC, replied: “No, he has not. They have just recently introduced bankruptcy laws in India. It is unhelpful to give expert evidence at this point as there is Union law and provincial law in India.”
The court heard that a change in government policy in 2012 “led to the exit of all major players in the market and a new entry to industry which others found difficult to compete with”. This led to RCom closing down in 2017.
Ambani claimed he had a personal deficit of $305 million (Rs 2,181 crore) and that his net worth had collapsed from more than $7 billion (about Rs 50,000 crore) in March 2012 to zero in December 2019.
In a witness statement Ambani told the court: “The current value of my shareholdings is down to approximately $82.4 million (approximately Rs 589 crore) and my net worth is zero after taking into account my liabilities. In summary, I do not hold any meaningful assets which can be liquidated.”
Bankim Thanki QC, representing the banks, pointed out there was “a dichotomy” between Ambani’s claims of poverty and his lavish lifestyle consisting of a $3 million (Rs 21.4 crore) fleet of luxury cars, a luxury yacht named Tian now worth $56 million (Rs 400 crore) which he had gifted his wife, a Bombardier private jet and helicopter.
“One is bound to ask why he can’t arrange for his companies to sell those assets and use the funds to pay the courts,” Waksman said.
Thanki said Ambani was living on two floors of Seawind, the 17-storey property in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, “that is thought to be wholly owned by the Ambani family, albeit via investment entities and/or shell companies”.
Thanki argued that Ambani’s brother Mukesh, mother Kokila, wife Tina and sons Anshul and Anmol were all extremely wealthy, that his business interests were closely interwoven with the Ambani business empire, and that they were all in a position to give him financial assistance.
Ambani’s statement of net worth submitted to the court showed he had received substantial personal loans, totalling $113.88 million (Rs 814 crore), from his mother Kokila and son Anmol. Thanki said there was evidence of Mukesh coming to his brother’s rescue last year when Ambani faced three months’ imprisonment for contempt of court in proceedings against RCom by Ericsson in the Supreme Court of India. But Ambani argued it was a “corporate transaction” which Waksman determined was a “misleading spin”.
“It remains unclear how he is funding his $700,000 (approximately Rs 5 crore) legal fees in these proceedings,” Thanki also said.
Ambani, in his evidence, said that his cars, jet and helicopter and yacht were held by corporate entities rather than him personally and that he paid his legal fees “out of his current year income”.
Thanki criticised Ambani’s statement in which he had repeatedly said, in respect of different family members: “Enquiries made but no loan can be availed from there.”
Thanki said: “This is obviously deliberately vague. Who asked, whom did they ask and what was the nature of the enquiry and what was the response. Repetition of language ‘no loan can be availed’ is not the same as ‘they can’t provide assistance with the conditional payment the court wants’.”
Howe responded: “It is an Indian providing this document and the use of English in India is different.” He added, “His lifestyle doesn’t share evidential light on whether he has ready access to hundreds of millions of dollars. There is no giant pot of gold he can pull $1 million from, let alone $10 million. The sums involved are very large. You can’t expect a friend or relative to do this.”





Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here