Anil Ambani, the brother of Asia's richest man, has pleaded poverty in a UK court after three Chinese banks seek repayment of $680 million in defaulted loans. The one-time billionaire and Reliance Group chairman has seen his personal fortune dwindle over the recent years, which has kept taking worse turns for the beset tycoon.
Ambani is facing a lawsuit filed by three state-controlled Chinese banks - Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China, which argue that they provided $925 million as loan in 2012 to Reliance Communications, which filed for bankruptcy last year. The loan was provided on the condition that Ambani personally guarantees the debt.
The banks have asked Judge David Waksman to order Ambani to deposit $656 million into the court's account ahead of a trial. The latest comments made by the embattled Indian businessman were disclosed on Friday with the hope to avoid depositing millions of dollars with the court.
'My net worth is zero'
"The value of my investments has collapsed. The current value of my shareholdings is down to around US$82.4m 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 for the purposes of these proceedings," Ambani said, according to a court filing by the banks in a London lawsuit, Bloomberg reported.
Robert Howe, who is representing Ambani in the case proceedings, said the court should not order his client to put up millions of dollars he cannot arrange. He further said that an order forcing him to do so will hinder his ability to defend himself in the case.
"There's no evidence of some giant pot of gold that he can pull $1 million, let alone $10 million, let alone $100 million," Howe said.
No financial aid from family
Ambani is certainly a name people resonate with riches and luxury, but it is not the case for Anil who is fighting a million-dollar lawsuit. When asked if funds can be arranged from outside resources, including his family, Anil said he won't be able to raise any finance.
Mukesh Ambani, who is worth $56.5 billion, came to Anil's rescue the last time when he was facing another legal battle last year. The Supreme Court had threated to put the elder Ambani brother in prison after his company Reliance Communications failed to pay $77 million (Rs 5.5 billion) to Ericsson AB's Indian unit. Mukesh had offered financial aid at the time to rescue his sibling from jail.
Howe stressed that Ambani's poverty claim eliminated any chance of financial help from his relatives. There is a "very substantial risk they will never get it back," Howe said.