Anil Ambani, the embattled chairman of Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) has denied a judge's remark that he led a "lavish lifestyle", during his cross-examination in a loan repayment case before a UK court.
Facing questions regarding his assets from advocates of three Chinese companies which filed the suit on an alleged breach of personal guarantee on debt refinancing loan, Ambani said that a judge was wrong to say that he was leading an extravagant lifestyle. He said he was a marathon runner who was a teetotaller, and didn't gamble or smoke.
"I think I must put it respectfully in perspective," Ambani said, adding that "my needs are not vast and my lifestyle is very disciplined. Thus, contrary to the exaggerated perceptions of his flamboyance and lavish lifestyle are completely speculative," he added.
Talking about his finances, Ambani told the court that the family art collection was owned by his wife, the luxury motor yacht was used by his family members and not him as he suffers from seasickness. He added the yacht is owned by a company. He further explained that he never made a personal guarantee on the said loans, something he rejected as an "extraordinary potential personal liability".
The former billionaire said it while presenting evidence via videolink for the first time from Mumbai last Friday. The Reliance Group chairman, who had earlier said that his net worth was "zero" was also questioned about his spending and finances, comprising over $100 million in family loans.
The case against Ambani pertains to $925 million or Rs 6,817 crore in loans given by Chinese banks to Reliance Communications in 2012 with the condition that he personally guarantees the debt. The company had initially repaid the loans but started defaulting later on. After winning a decree requiring him to make the payments, the banks are yet to receive any funds.
Appearing on behalf of banks, Attorney Bankim Thanki said that Ambani is "fighting tooth and nail to prevent having to pay us a penny." The Reliance Group chairman was accused of keeping his assets out of bounds for his creditors by putting the ownership in corporate entities.
Friday's hearing was kept to examine Ambani over credit-card spending in luxury shops comprising Harrod's which the tycoon said was done by his mother, Kokilaben Ambani, on his cards. Ambani was also asked about a $66 million loan provided by his mother, and a $41 million loan he received from his son. The embattled businessman explained that he couldn't recollect the terms of the loans while maintaining that they weren't gifts.
Ambani has always been of "simple tastes" contrary to the overstated impressions of his ostentatious and extravagant lifestyle, a spokesperson for the former billionaire said in a statement.
"He is also a lifelong vegetarian, teetotaller, and non-smoker who would much rather watch a movie at home with his kids than go out of town. Reports that suggest otherwise are completely misleading," the spokesperson added.