Mukesh and Anil Ambani’s bitter feud, accusations of extravagance and potential jail time: the 5 biggest controversies to hit India’s richest family
From allegations of dodgy tender deals in the early days of Reliance Industries, to embarrassing family feuds, the Ambani family have caught the world’s attention before, and not just because of their money.
Here are five controversies the family have had to face … and overcome.
The early Dhirubhai allegations
But behind the widespread devotion lurks allegations of Dhirubhai using his influence to rig government tenders in favour of Reliance. There have also been reports of the Ambani family paying for positive press around them, while an extensive investigative in The Wire alleges Reliance worked to squash a book that held distasteful claims of corruption. Nevertheless, the family has consistently rubbished the claims.
The power grab
A disgraced brother
In 2008, Anil was the world’s sixth richest man. Now he faces a barrage of lawsuits, has openly declared he has no money, and jail time for monies owed appeared a real possibility. Although his brother Mukesh ended up helping him out financially – a move many saw as an olive branch – it was also seen by some as a move to prevent the Ambani family name being dragged through the mud, especially considering the international investors Mukesh was aiming to attract.
Successful brand or unfair oligopoly?
The rise of Reliance Industries and the Ambani family has been hailed by many as a true local Indian success story. Nevertheless, some commentators believe that the dominance of its telecoms arm, Reliance Jio, is not good for the market. The foundation of the criticism lies in the idea that Jio controls most the market in India, creating an oligopoly, which essentially prevents smaller businesses in the same industry from growing to gain a larger slice of the pie.
Over the top spending in one of the world’s poorest countries
The Global Hunger Index again listed India as one of the poorest countries in the world this year, rating its hunger level as “serious”, with malnutrition and a lack of adequate health care among the key concerns. The extent of the poverty in the country, put side by side with the Ambani’s wealth, has unsurprisingly led some to criticise the family for flaunting their wealth on occasion.
Nita Ambani may own a Hermès handbag worth US$350,000 and Mukesh a US$73 million private jet, but it’s not all been smooth sailing – many of the downs have been as big as the ups