The Ongoing Superyacht Indian Empress Saga is Far From Over: The saga of the 95m Indian Empress megayacht, impounded in Malta since March, may not be over after all. A Maltese court has denied the request of the winner of the late June auction to buy the 95-meter megayacht to extend the deadline to pay the winning bid of €43.5 million.
Payment for the vessel was originally due on July 5. However, the buyer, who is reportedly from Iran, asked for a 15-day extension to pay the sum, due to transaction issues. Although the maritime workers union Nautilus International agreed to the extension, the court has rejected the request and has thrown the future of the megayacht once again in doubt.
The court is now expected to select a new date to hold another auction. At least six registered bidders were present at the June 28 auction, although only three made offers during the auction. Bidding started at €25 million.
Nautilus International organizer Danny McGowan said that despite the denial of the extension, the union was pleased about the strict interpretation of the law. As it sends a message that yacht ownership is an issue to be taken seriously.
McGowan added that he hoped the Maltese court would be able to quickly arrange a new auction so that funds could be deposited for payment of the crew’s back wages as all have waited long enough for their compensation.
The dispute dates back to September 2017 when the alleged owner of Indian Princess, Vijay Mallya, abandoned the yacht. Mallya, whose business empire includes Kingfisher Beer, reportedly owes more that 40 crew members on board a total amount of more than $1 million in unpaid wages.
Indian Empress was impounded in March 2017 on behalf of 13 creditors who are also reportedly owned €2 million. Although some crew remain working on board, many have left, seeking alternative employment.
The news comes at the same time that Mallya, the self-proclaimed “King of Good Times, who was accused of abandoning Indian Empress last fall, denied being the owner of the yacht. Mallya told the Reuters news agency at the British Formula One Grand Prix that he sold the yacht in 2011 to a Middle Eastern gentleman whom he declined to identify. The deal reportedly allowed Mallya use of Indian Empress for one month each year.
Upon hearing the news, McGowan stated that Nautilus International is keen to know why it took Mallya so long to claim that he is not the owner. Furthermore, if that is the case, why did crew wages stop being paid around the time that Mallya’s assets were frozen?
Mallya has been in Britain since March 2016 when he fled India for the United Kingdom to escape jail time in India for loan defaults. He is now unable to travel as his passport has been revoked.
Additionally, Mallya recently told a British court via n affidavit on his U.K. assets that there is little personal property to seize other than cars and several pieces of jewelry. Mallya said his estate in Tewin belongs to his children and his London townhome is owned by his mother. His other properties in Hertfordshire, Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge, also have links to family trusts. The estates are reportedly worth a total of £15 million.
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