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M/Y Indian Empress Impounded Over Crew Wage Dispute

Mar 7th 18


The 95-meter M/Y Indian Empress was impounded in Malta on Tuesday, March 6, after its owner, Vijay Mallya, failed to pay crew more than $1 million in wages.  


More than 40 crew have gone unpaid since September, when Mallya abandoned the vessel, and are owed anywhere between $6,250 to more than $92,000, according to a press release by maritime professionals union Nautilus International. Around this time, Mallya was reportedly arrested in London over allegations that he supported the Force India Formula One team he co-owns with money-laundered cash. 


So far, Nautilus International has secured a milestone payment of four month’s unpaid compensation totaling more than $615,000 for its members by using the Maritime Labor Convention, 2006 provisions. They are currently working to recover an additional $330,000 on behalf of Nautilus members by enforcing a maritime lien on the arrested superyacht for outstanding wages and other costs over and above the amounts covered by the MLC. The Guardian reports that non-union crewmembers are owed hundreds of thousands more. 


“Our members on board gave their employer and the shipowner multiple opportunities to pay monthly wages, displaying a loyalty and restraint greater than many would show in such situations,” says Danny McGowan, the union’s strategic organizer, in the press release. “These opportunities were regularly ignored by the owner, leaving us with no option but to take the case to the courts.”  


Nautilus’s actions have achieved a first for the superyacht industry — enforcing the financial security provisions of the Maritime Labor Convention. 


“Our ability to enforce [this] shows the vital importance of the international measure and ‘safety net’ amendments that were introduced to protect crew members,” added Charles Boyle, Nautilus International’s director of legal services, in the press release. 


Mallya is reportedly out on bail and living in a multi-million pound mansion in Britain pending extradition proceedings initiated by India. According to Reuters, his defense team claims he’s being used as a scapegoat by Indian politicians to deflect public anger at bad debts by state-owned banks.  


UPDATE: 4/23/2018
According to the Times of Malta, M/Y Indian Empress has now been ordered to pay more than €68,000 to two marine service agencies. Malta’s The First Hall of the Civil Court has reportedly upheld the claims of Agence Maritime Tropezienne (€25,829) and Luise Associates Riviera & Co. S.r.l. (€42,502) relative to services rendered to Indian Empress. "The yacht’s legal representatives have admitted the applicants’ claims," the Times reports.

Currently, the vessel is facing a maritime lien over a million-dollar unpaid wage bill and a €651,000 unpaid fuel bill. The former owner, ex-politician Vijay Mallya — who was also a co-owner of the Force India Formula One team — is still in the UK pending an extradition request attempting to force him to return to India so he can face charges for his financial crimes, which include money laundering and fraud.

  • Congratulations to Nautilus International on this achievement. i furthermore wish you luck in recovering the remaining owed wages and allow the lien to remain in force for the non union crew, as they would probably become members with your support.
    Posted by Captain Bob Terrell 04/04/2018 02:21:13

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