M/Y Indian Empress was sold for 43.5 million euros in a court-ordered auction in Malta on June 28. The winning bidder’s identity has been withheld.
The 311-foot (95m) Oceanco, built in 2000, was impounded in Malta in March after being hit with a maritime lien by more than 40 crew members who were owed more than $1 million in wages that had not been paid since September 2017, when the owner abandoned the boat.
Using a “safety net” financial security provision of the international Maritime Labour Convention, the maritime professionals’ trade organization Nautilus International secured about $615,000 – four months’ worth of the unpaid crew wages. According to the trade organization, it was the first time in the superyacht industry that the MLC provision was successfully enforced.
In March, the civil court of Malta ordered payment of 651,000 euros to a fuel supplier and 92,000 euros to senior staff, according to local news reports.
In April, the court ordered the yacht owner to settle an outstanding bill from marine repairs and services company Melita Power Diesel Limited, to pay 234,129 euros in back wages to 15 crew members, and to pay more than 68,000 euros to yacht agents Agence Maritime Tropezienne and Luise Associates Riviera & Co.
The yacht’s owner, liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, was arrested in London in 2017 on allegations he supported his Force India Formula One team with money-laundered cash. The 62-year-old former Indian politician also faces extradition to India on charges including money laundering and fraud. Mallya, whose assets remain frozen, denies the accusations.
An earlier auction date of May 21 was suspended by the civil court of Malta after the owner’s representatives requested more time to advertise the sale. Mallya reportedly paid $113 million for the yacht when he bought it in 2006. Indian Empress is registered on the Isle of Man and is estimated to be worth $93 million. Launched in 2000 as M/Y Al Mirqab, the yacht was previously owned by the Qatari royal family.
According to Nautilus International, sale proceeds were expected to be deposited in court within a week of the ruling. The court then will arrange for creditors, including crew, to be paid what they are owed.