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Anil Ambani tells the court of the United Kingdom that his “net worth is zero” despite the fleet of cars, private jet and yacht

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LONDON: Former billionaire Anil Ambani, once the sixth richest man in the world, said Friday in a UK court that “his net worth was zero” and that he was bankrupt.

Three Chinese banks, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, are suing Ambani in the high court here for more than $ 700 million (more than Rs 5,000 million of rupees), including interest, for default of a loan, they gave Reliance Communications (RCom), now in insolvency proceedings, in February 2012, which RCom defaulted. The banks claim that Ambani provided a personal guarantee for the loan, but Ambani denies it.

Ambani narrowly avoided a summary trial against him in December 2019 when Judge Waksman said his evidence was “inexplicably incomplete, implausible and highly unlikely.”

At the hearing on Friday, in which Ambani’s son, Anmol, was present, the banks asked the court to issue a conditional order that forced him to pay the court $ 656 million (about Rs 4.690 million) before the judgment. But the judge decided that he should pay $ 100 million (Rs 715 million rupees) to the court.

Judge Waksman strongly criticized Ambani’s statements, saying they were full of “falsehoods” and that Ambani had “lied clearly.” He said Ambani had taken a deceptive turn to his brother’s role in rescuing him last year and also spoke of “irregular corporate activities” within the Reliance group.

“He clearly has more assets or income than he is letting go. In my opinion, family members can help and given what they can afford, they must pay $ 100 million in court, ”said Waksman. “It would be absurd for Mukesh to say that he could not afford to lend the money given the size of his fortune. This is an extremely rich family that has helped each other in the past. I don’t accept that his own available assets are as limited as he says. ”

Ambani told the commercial court that he would be “unable to raise funds from outside sources” to comply with any conditional order, despite being the brother of Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, from whom the court heard that his wealth It was estimated at $ 55 billion for $ 57 billion (Rs 3.93,000 rupees to Rs 4.07,000 rupees). He claimed that due to the loss of his telecommunications empire, he was completely bankrupt and insolvent.

Judge Waksman said: “In your case you are bankrupt. Have you declared bankruptcy in India? Has anyone done a search? I would expect someone to have done it. I want to know what’s going on. ”

To which Robert Howe QC, on behalf of Ambani, together with Harish Salve QC, replied: “No, he has not. They have recently introduced bankruptcy laws in India. It is not useful to present expert evidence at this time, since there are Union laws and provincial laws in India. ”

The court heard that a change in government policy in 2012 “led to the departure of all major market players and a new entry into the industry with which others found it difficult to compete.” This led to the closure of RCom in 2017.

Ambani said he had a personal deficit of $ 305 million (Rs 2,181 million rupees) and that his net worth had collapsed of more than $ 7 billion (around Rs 50,000 crore) in March 2012 to zero in December of 2019.

In a witness statement, Ambani told the court: “The current value of my shares was reduced to approximately $ 82.4 million (approximately Rs 589 million rupees) and my net worth is zero after taking into account my responsibilities. In short, I don’t have any significant assets that can be liquidated. ”

Bankim Thanki QC, representing the banks, said there was a “dichotomy” between Ambani’s poverty claims and his luxurious lifestyle that consisted of a $ 3 million luxury car fleet (Rs 21.4 million rupees) , a luxury yacht called Tian that is now worth $ 56 million (Rs 400 million rupees) that he had given to his wife, a private jet and Bombardier helicopter.

“You will wonder why you cannot make arrangements for your companies to sell those assets and use the funds to pay the courts,” Waksman said.

Thanki said Ambani lived on two floors of Seawind, the 17-story property in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, “which is believed to be the exclusive property of the Ambani family, though through investment entities and / or ghost companies.”

Thanki argued that Ambani’s brother Mukesh, mother Kokila, wife Tina and children Anshul and Anmol were all extremely rich, that their business interests were closely intertwined with the Ambani business empire and that everyone was in a position to provide financial assistance. Ambani’s net equity statement presented to the court showed that he had received substantial personal loans, for a total of $ 113.88 million (Rs 814 million rupees), from his mother Kokila and his son Anmol. Thanki said there was evidence that Mukesh went to the rescue of his brother last year when Ambani faced three months in prison for contempt of court in a process against RCom by Ericsson in the Supreme Court of India. But Ambani argued that it was a “corporate transaction” that Waksman determined was a “misleading turn.”

“It is not clear how he is financing his legal fees of $ 700,000 (approximately Rs 5 million) in these proceedings,” Thanki said.

Ambani, in his evidence, said that his cars, jet and helicopter and yacht were in the hands of corporate entities instead of him personally and that he paid his legal fees “of his income for the current year.”

Thanki criticized Ambani’s statement in which he had repeatedly said, regarding different family members: “The investigations carried out, but no loan can be used from there.”

Thanki said: “This is obviously deliberately vague. Who asked, who was asked and what was the nature of the investigation and what was the answer. The repetition of the language “no loan can be used” is not the same as “they cannot provide assistance with the conditional payment that the court wants.”

Howe replied: “He is an Indian who provides this document and the use of English in India is different.” He added: “Your lifestyle does not share clear evidence about whether you have immediate access to hundreds of millions of dollars.” There isn’t a giant pot of gold from which I can get $ 1 million, much less $ 10 million. The sums involved are very large. You can’t expect a friend or family member to do this. ”

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