LONDON: Indebted business tycoon Anil Ambani told a UK court on Friday that he lives a simple life, drives just one car and has sold his jewellery to pay his legal fees.
He said he had received Rs 9.9 crore for all his jewellery between January and June 2020 and now does not own anything — “nothing meaningful,” he said.
When asked about a fleet of luxury cars he had access to, he said: “These are speculative media stories. I have never owned a Rolls-Royce. At present, I use one car.”
On May 22, 2020 the UK high court had ordered Ambani to pay a debt of $716,917,681 (Rs 5,281 crore) and £750,000 (Rs 7 crore) in legal costs to three Chinese banks by June 12, 2020. The amount was not paid. Then, on June 15, the Chinese banks, led by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, sought a disclosure order on his assets.
On June 29, Master Davison ordered Ambani to serve an affidavit setting out all of his assets worldwide exceeding $100,000 (about Rs 74 lakh), whether or not they are in his own name, whether they are solely or jointly owned, and whether he is interested in them legally, beneficially or otherwise.
Ambani appeared from India via video-conference on Friday to be cross-examined. The court heard he had outstanding loans of Rs 500 crore to his mother and Rs 310 crore to his son, Anmol.
Ambani said he had loaned the Rs 5 billion to Reliance Innoventures and did not “recall” the terms and conditions of both loans. He also said his 12 million equity shares in Reliance Innoventures were “worthless” and denied having any interest in any trust worldwide, including his family trust.
“You are not giving honest evidence, are you, in relation to beneficial interest in trusts?” Bankim Thanki QC, representing the banks, said. The court heard his bank balance dropped overnight from Rs 40.2 lakh on December 31, 2019 to Rs 20.8 lakh on January 1, 2020.
Ambani declared that despite being until recently one of the richest men in India, he owned one piece of artwork worth $110,000. At this, Thanki asked, “What is the Tina and Anil Ambani collection?”
Ambani replied: “It’s my wife’s collection. I just happen to be her husband so she just took my permission to say it.” He said he had received no professional fees from Reliance Infrastructure in 2019-2020, and was not expecting any this year owing to the “challenging financial position”.
“My expenses are minimal and being borne by wife and family. I don’t have a lavish lifestyle and no other income. I met legal expense by sale of jewellery and, if I have to meet further expenses, (it) will be subject to approval by the court to dispose of other assets,” Ambani said.
When asked about his private helicopter, he said: “I don’t pay for it unless I use it for personal use.”
When challenged by Thanki as to why there was no evidence of any payments by him for personal use, he said: “It’s been lockdown and I have not used it, I can’t recollect.”
“There have been reports you gifted your wife Tina a luxury motor yacht,” Thanki said, to which Ambani replied: “The yacht is owned by a corporate entity. I am a seasick person so never used it apart from when it arrived.”
He was also interrogated about credit card bills showing shopping in London, in California, Beijing, and elsewhere, most of which he said was his mother’s shopping.
Ambani declared electrical expenses of Rs 60.6 lakh over eight months at Seawind — where he lives — and blamed it on south Mumbai having the highest electrical tariff.
A statement issued by his spokesperson after the hearing said he has always been a simple man of simple tastes, contrary to exaggerated perceptions of his flamboyance and lavish lifestyle.
The three Chinese banks (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Export-Import Bank of China, and China Development Bank) also issued a statement after the hearing saying they “intend to pursue enforcement action and all available remedies against Mr Ambani”.
“The banks will use the information from the cross-examination to pursue all available legal avenues to protect their rights and recover the outstanding loans owed to them,” the statement said.
Source: Times of India