The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Indian yacht owner ordered to pay €234,129 in backdated salaries

Wednesday, 30 May 2018, 11:05 Last update: about 2 years ago

Impounded superyacht MY Empress’ debts continue to mount after a court ordered it to pay €234,129 ($290,426) in backdated salaries to 15 of its crewmembers, just a month after it was condemned to pay over €600,000 to a fuel supplier and €92,000 to its senior staff.

The court order is one in a series of claims over the vessel which was impounded in Malta in March due to an ongoing wage dispute with its crew. Some of the senior crew, who have not left the vessel since it was abandoned, by its owner are owed up to $92,000 in unpaid wages dating back to September.

The 95-metre vessel – bought by Indian multimillionaire Vijay Mallya from a Qatari sheikh for a reported $113 million in 2006 – has been using a berth at Manoel Island marina for years, replacing Mallya’s previous 55-metre boat Indian Princess. The luxury yacht, which boasts a 15-seat cinema and Sir Elton John’s baby grand piano, has been impounded in a “maritime lien” which gives the crew claim over the vessel to the value of the unpaid wages.

Mallya fled to the UK on March 2, leaving over €1 billion in unpaid loans from 17 banks. The 60-year-old left India just hours before the State Bank of India started proceedings to seize his passport to prevent him from leaving the country.

Mallya, co-owner of the Force India Formula One team and self-proclaimed “King of the Good Times”, was then arrested in London last year over allegations he supported his F1 team with money-laundered cash.

The entrepreneur used to own Kingfisher Airlines, which went bankrupt in 2012.

In a judgment handed down earlier this week, Mr Justice Toni Abela ruled that the court was satisfied that the amount was due and upheld the vessel’s arrest, ordering the owner to pay up.

Lawyer Malcolm Mifsud was counsel to the crewmembers.

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