Once at the helm of businesses like Reliance Infrastructure, Reliance Capital, and Reliance Communication, Anil Ambani is the complete opposite of the popular idiom ‘rags to riches’. At least that is what he claimed in a UK-court where he was battling Chinese Banks that claim he owes them $680 million. Anil Ambani told the court that his net worth was nearly zero or that his family would not step in to assist him when “push came to shove”, according to a PTI report.
The court has ordered Ambani to pay USD 100 million towards a conditional order granted to three Chinese banks. “In my overall conclusion, Mr Anil Ambani has not satisfied me that he can’t make any payment at all,” said Judge Waksman, as he criticised “lack of candour” and “transparency” on the part of Anil Ambani’s defence in reference to his financial means.
Anil Ambani, a little over a decade ago was one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of close to $42 billion. The total market value of his companies fell to less than a billion in the middle of last year. His company Reliance Communications filed for bankruptcy in 2019.
The banks – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd Mumbai Branch, China Development Bank and Exim Bank of China have been fighting the legal battle against Anil Ambani over an alleged breach of a personal guarantee on a debt refinancing loan of around USD 925 million in February 2012. Anil Ambani, however, denies providing authority for any guarantee, resulting in the Court action in the United Kingdom.
The court refused to believe Ambani’s defence team, led by Harish Salve, that claimed their client’s net worth was zero if his liabilities were taken into account. “Whereas Mr Anil Ambani’s investments were worth more than $7 billion in 2012, they are now worth $89 million, and his net worth is zero once his liabilities are taken into account… Quite simply, he was a wealthy businessman, now he is not,” said his barrister Robert Howe. According to this legal team, his wealth shrunk after 2012, attributing the loss to India’s telecom sector where his Reliance Communication was once a player.
The Chinese banks, however, pointed out that Anil Ambani lives a lavish lifestyle despite the claims made by his legal team. They zeroed in on a series of instances where Ambani family members had stepped in to bail him out.
Anil Ambani who has been battling court cases related to his companies in India and abroad is the brother of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani who has a net worth of close to $56 billion.