Anil Ambani Tells London Court That He Has sold Jewellery and Taken Loans from His Mother and Son
Appearing before a UK Court (under Rule 71) via video conference on Friday over a lawsuit brought by three State-controlled Chinese banks over non-repayment of loans, Anil Ambani claimed that his current expenses are being borne by wife and family and that he has even taken a loan from his son Anmol to the tune of several crores. He further claimed that he has sold off all his jewellery for Rs9 crore to pay off legal expenses and now owns 'nothing meaningful'.
The Mumbai Mirror
that Ambani was subjected to three hours of incisive questioning with respect to his assets, liabilities and expenses. The report says Mr Ambani refuted that all reports of his fleet of expensive cars were merely media speculation and reports about his lifestyle were greatly exaggerated. Ambani further said “I have never owned a Rolls Royce. I use just one car at present.”
While the embattled chairman of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) has continued to maintain that he has negative net worth, the Chinese banks have argued otherwise, quoting his luxurious lifestyle and the support that he has received from his elder brother Mukesh Ambani.
He had earlier made an unsuccessful application for the proceedings to be held in private, which the judge later summarised was made as Mr Ambani was “concerned about his personal embarrassment”.
When asked about the 12 million equity shares he owns in Reliance Innoventures Anil Ambani claimed that the shares are worthless. Ambani added that he had borrowed Rs500 crore from his mother and Rs310 crore from his son Anmol. In October 2018, Ambani took a loan of Rs500 crore from his mother, but when the lawyer asked him to reveal the terms of the loan, he said he was not privy to the actual terms of the loan.
The lawyer Bankim Thanki, representing the trio of Chinese banks, pointed out that the witness statements and list of his assets provided to the court were incomplete.
When confronted with his credit card, which was used in Harrods, Dolce and Gabbana and Harvey Nichols, Mr Ambani claimed that it was used by his mother. He said “I have not used my credit card,” when asked why there were no latest credit card statements.
When he was questioned about the yacht he had gifted his wife Tina Ambani. Mr Ambani said that he suffers from seasickness and that the family has not used the yacht for many years. He contended “I am a 61-year-old man, I lead a very disciplined lifestyle. I do not drink...I do not smoke. Any suggestion of a lavish lifestyle is the creation of the media.”
He was also asked about the ownership of art works. He claimed that he owns only one piece of art, and when he was asked about the Tina and Anil Ambani Foundation holding art exhibitions with Christie’s, he said that it was part of the Harmony Foundation and belonged to his wife Tina.
Mr Ambani was accused by the lawyer of putting his assets out of the reach of his creditors by putting the ownership in his wife’s name.
When Thanki asked “The size of the legal team and your lifestyle suggest that you must have other sources of income”, Mr Ambani countered him saying “I do not have a luxurious lifestyle.”
When he was asked several times if he was genuinely “interested in helping the court” and whether “everything has been disclosed”, Mr Ambani held that “True and fair statements have been furnished.”
Mr Thanki then sought to make the connection that Mukesh Ambani (the world’s fifth richest person) was still supporting him, Mr Thanki asked him to answer in yes or no whether “the effect of your evidence is that you live rent free in property which is owned by your brother” to which Mr Ambani admitted in the affirmative.
In 2012, Anil Ambani took a loan of over US$700 million for his company Reliance Com from three Chinese banks for which he provided personal guarantee. The company is currently caught in insolvency proceedings.
The banks managed to get a judgement debt to the tune of US$717 million against Mr Ambani. Mr Ambani was asked to provide a list of assets to the UK court along with bank statements and credit card statements for the last 24 months since he failed to pay the banks as per the court’s direction.
The total debts of Anil Ambani stand at US$716,917,681 (Rs5,281 crore) and Mr Ambani said yesterday that he owns nothing as of now.
It is also reported that Harish Salve, representing Anil Ambani, is arguing to reduce the legal cost assessment made by the Chinese banks.