Priya Vandrevala to vigorously fight £350-million fraud charge

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Mar 19, 2014 01:28 IST

Priya Vandrevala, who is facing a £350 million (Rs. 3,500 crore) fraud case in the Isle of Man brought by the new owners of the real estate company she had co-founded in 2006, is said to be “determined not to give in to greenmail”.

Hirco, the company founded by Vandrevala and her father, prominent Mumbai-based real estate developer Niranjan Hiranandani, was delisted from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on February 20. The company’s new chairman is John Chapman.

Sources close to the dispute alleged that “litigation funders” such as Chapman and others take over companies with low stock value on LSE’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), accuse previous management of fraud, and win compensation through legal suits.

The allegation, however, was strongly refuted by a spokesperson for Hirco, who told HT: “This is completely untrue. John Chapman has never bought any company on the AIM market and then filed legal action against former management”.

“The current action against Niranjan Hiranandani and Priya Vandrevala-Hirandani is the first time he has sued a former chairman and CEO for fraud,” the spokesperson added.

In response to a ‘Letter before Action’ from Hirco’s solicitors, Vandrevala’s solicitors Herbert Smith Freehills had earlier said: “Your clients’ claims are groundless, misconceived and blatantly tactical. All of your clients’ claims, including for fraud, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence are bound to fail.”

Vandrevala, who is married to Mumbai-born private equity investor Cyrus Vandrevala, lives in London. The couple made a splash in London’s elite circuit on November 21, 2013 when they hosted a party for Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace to celebrate his 65th birthday. It was described as “extremely rare” for an outsider to be given the opportunity to organise an occasion at the palace.

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