LONDON: Former billionaire Anil Ambani, once the sixth richest man in the world, declared to a UK court on Friday that he is bankrupt.
The claim came after a UK court on Friday directed him to pay $100 million (Rs.715 crores) to three Chinese banks for the recovery of $700 million owed to them as a part of loan agreement, for which the junior Ambani had provided a personal guarantee.
The banks had 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 into court, according to a Times of India report.
Judge David Waksman had set a six-week timeline for the payment to be made as he concluded that he did not accept Ambani's defence that his net worth was "nearly zero" or that his family would not step in to assist him when "push came to shove".
The judge 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.
The Reliance Group indicated that it plans to appeal against the ruling, which will involve a process of seeking permission to appeal.
"Ambani is reviewing the order of the UK Court and will take legal advice as to further remedies in appeal," a spokesperson for Anil Ambani said.
"The order pertains to an alleged personal liability of Ambani and will have no bearing on the operations of the Reliance Infrastructure Limited, Reliance Power Limited and Reliance Capital Limited," the spokesperson was quoted by Free Press Journal as saying.
“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,” the judge added.
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.”
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