The crew of M/Y Indian Empress have been awarded almost $1 million in back pay after the yacht’s owner, Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, abandoned the yacht in Malta when he was arrested in the UK more than a year ago.
Nautilus International, a maritime professional’s trade organization based in London, had the yacht arrested in March while it worked to recover unpaid wages and other costs for the 40-member crew. According to Nautilus, the crew will receive a total of $905,000. Some of the Indian Empress’s senior crew had not left the vessel since it was abandoned in September 2017 and were reportedly owed up to $92,000 each in unpaid wages.
“We are glad that we were able to help our members in this way,” stated Danny McGowan, international organizer at Nautilus. “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.”
Mallya, whose business empire once included Kingfisher beer, was arrested in London in September 2017 over allegations he supported his Force India Formula One team with money-laundered cash. He denies the charges and has been fighting extradition to India, where he is wanted in connection with a $1.27 billion fraud.
Earlier this year, a Maltese court ordered the sale of the Indian Empress, a 312-foot (95m) Oceanco, in order to pay creditors, including the crew. The yacht, launched in 2000 as M/Y Al Mirqab and previously owned by the Qatari royal family, had an estimated value of just over €83.5 million. The vessel was sold to the Maltese-registered firm Sea Beauty Yachting Limited for €35 million in September. It was renamed Neom and listed for private charter at €744,000 a week, according to news reports.
A London court on Dec. 10 ruled that Mallya can be extradited from the UK to India, and that ruling has been passed to the Home Secretary for approval, according to the BBC. Mallya faces charges in India relating to financial irregularities at his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
IBI has reported that Mallya’s second yacht, the 164-foot (49.9m) Mangusta Force India, is under arrest in Southampton over disputes relating to crew wages and a claim from a Qatari-owned bank for €5.2 million. Charles Boyle, legal officer for Nautilus, reportedly indicated to IBI that a case involving payments in excess of £20,000 to three Force India crew members who are Nautilus members has been resolved.