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Crime

Indian multimillionaire Vijay Mallya ordered to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay to superyacht crew

  • Mallya abandoned the yacht and its crew in September 2017 following his arrest in connection with a US$1.27 billion fraud. He is fighting extradition
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2018, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 December, 2018, 9:48pm

The crew of Indian multimillionaire Vijay Mallya’s superyacht have been awarded almost US$1 million in back pay after the businessman and former Formula One team owner abandoned the vessel and its 40 crew in Malta more than a year ago.

Nautilus, the union representing the crew which includes several Britons, said they would receive a total of US$905,000 following the forced sale of Mallya’s US$95m Indian Empress yacht.

Mallya abandoned the yacht and its crew in September 2017 following his arrest in connection with a £1 billion (US$1.27 billion) fraud and is fighting extradition from the UK to India.

A Maltese court ordered the sale of the yacht to secure funds to pay creditors, including the crew. Some of the Indian Empress’s senior crew have not left the vessel since it was abandoned and are owed up to US$92,000 each in unpaid wages.

The yacht, which features a 15-seat cinema and Sir Elton John’s baby grand piano, was sold to Maltese-registered firm Sea Beauty Yachting Limited for US$35m in September. It was renamed Neom and listed for private charter at a cost of US$850,000-a-week.

Danny McGowan, the international organiser of Nautilus, said: “We are glad that we were able to help our members in this way. It is so important that maritime professionals working on board superyachts join Nautilus before they encounter this type of issue, as waiting until they have a problem normally means that it is too late.

“If the shipowner had a relationship with Nautilus, we are sure that we could have resolved the issue without resorting to arresting and selling the vessel. Again, we issue our call to superyacht owners, managers and other potential strategic partners to work with us in order to try and prevent situations escalating as they did here.”

Mallya, the self-proclaimed “King of the Good Times”, was arrested in London last year over allegations he supported the Force India Formula One team with money-laundered cash.

Indian authorities are seeking his extradition over unpaid loans to his beleaguered Kingisher Airlines after he absconded to Britain in 2016. The 62-year-old is on bail pending an extradition hearing expected to begin in April.

Indian jail gets better facilities to house fugitive millionaires

Earlier this year, it was reported that Mumbai Central Prison was set to get a new block of cells following complaints by Mallya in a British court that they lacked natural light.

Indian authorities refurbished some facilities at the more than 90-year-old prison and videos of those cells with fans, television sets, and commode with water jets, were shared with the UK court.

Additional reporting by agencies