Vijay Mallya, who is fighting extradition from UK to India, abandoned vessel after arrest for fraud
The crew of Indian multimillionaire Vijay Mallya’s superyacht have been awarded almost $1m 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 $905,000 (£711,000) following the forced sale of Mallya’s $95m Indian Empress yacht.
Mallya abandoned the yacht and its crew in September 2017 following his arrest in connection with a £1bn 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 $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 €35m (£31.2m) in September. It was renamed Neom and listed for private charter at a cost of £670,000-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 onboard 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 to face trial in India. Mallya, 62, is on bail pending an extradition hearing scheduled to begin in April.