Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani's $1 billion house Antilla has come under the government scanner. Ambani, the country's richest man, faces a possible government probe into the construction of his 27-storey mansion — located on Altamount Road in one of south Mumbai's most exclusive neighbourhoods.
The Maharashtra state government is considering whether central investigators should look into alleged irregularities over the sale of the land on which the lavish skyscraper was built, media reported on Tuesday.
Ambani, who according to Forbes magazine is the world's ninth richest man with a $27-billion fortune, moved into the 570-foot (174-metre) tower last year.
Antilla, named after a legendary island near Spain, is one of the world's most expensive private residences in the world. It reportedly has six floors of parking, swimming pools, a ballroom, a cinema and three helipads.
Maharashtra Minority Affairs and Wakf minister, Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan, told the state assembly on Monday that the 4,532 square metre (48,782 square foot) plot had originally been reserved for the education of Muslim children.
Wakf in Islamic law is property or land reserved for religious or charitable purposes.
The plot was sold to Ambani by the Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Orphanage Trust for Rs 215 million ($4.77 million) in 2002, about one-third of what it might be worth today, the minister said.
The deal was approved by the Mumbai Charity Commissioner but the minister said permission was not obtained from the Maharashtra State Wakf Board, which oversees the maintenance and administration of Wakf property and land.
The dispute over the sale has been rumbling since 2004 when the Wakf board asked Ambani why the land should not be returned to the charity.
The opposition leader in the state assembly, Eknath Khadse, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on Monday claimed that the plot was actually worth Rs 500 crore.
Ambani has tried to stay out of this dispute as he has said that the matter does not concern him. A Reliance Industries spokesman said the matter was between the Wakf board and the orphanage and had nothing to do with the company.
(With inputs from AFP)
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