Industrialist Anil Ambani on Friday claimed that he was a “simple man of simple tastes”, who lived a modest life bereft of any kind of flamboyance, The Times of India reported. The industrialist told a court in the United Kingdom that he owned “nothing meaningful” and that the exaggerated perceptions about his lavish lifestyle are speculative media stories.
Ambani, who was appearing before the court in relation to a lawsuit filed by the three Chinese banks over an alleged breach of a personal guarantee on a debt refinancing loan, said he had sold all his jewelleries to pay his legal fees.
He said he had received Rs 9.9 crore for all the jewellery between January and June 2020, and now owns nothing meaningful. When asked about his legion of luxury cars, the industrialist said: “These are speculative media stories. I have never owned a Rolls-Royce. At present, I use one car.” On his private helicopter, Ambani claimed he does not pay for it unless he personally uses it.
“My expenses are minimal and being borne by wife and family,” Ambani added. “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.”
When Bankim Thanki, representing the banks, asked why there was no evidence of any payments made by him for the personal use of the helicopter, he said: “It’s been owned by a corporate entity. I am a seasick person so never used it apart from when it arrived.”
On May 22, a court in the United Kingdom had ordered Ambani to pay nearly $717 million (Rs 5,447 crore) to three Chinese banks, within 21 days. The banks have been pursuing recovery of funds owed to them as part of a loan agreement made in 2012. But the amount was not paid within the stipulated time period.
Then, on June 15, the Chinese banks, led by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, sought a disclosure order on his assets. On June 29, the court 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 in the case. The industrialist told the court that his bank balance dropped overnight from Rs 40.2 lakh on December 31, 2019 to Rs 20.8 lakh on January 1, 2020.
He further claimed that despite being one of the richest men in India until recently, he owned one “piece of artwork worth $110,000”. “What is the Tina and Anil Ambani collection?” Thanki asked at this conjecture. Ambani told him that was his wife’s collection.
He added that 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 claimed his 12 million equity shares in Reliance Innoventures were “worthless” and denied having any interest in any trust worldwide, including his family trust.
During the hearing, Ambani was also interrogated about credit card bills showing shopping in London, California , Beijing and elsewhere, most of which he claimed was his mother’s shopping.