A Deemster has ruled that a multimillion-pound fraud case involving an Indian billionaire and his socialite daughter should be heard in the Manx courts.
Niranjan Hiranandani and his daughter Priya Hiranandani-Vandrevala are accused on making fraudulent misrepresentations to a Manx-registered company of which they were directors.
Claimant Hirco plc and its Mauritius-registered subsidiary Hirco Holdings Ltd invested £350.8 million in two large-scale Indian real estate projects to be developed by entities associated with the Hiranandani family - and allege they were induced to do so by fraudulent misrepresentations about what the land was worth and the likely returns on their investment.
The claimants allege the plots of land were worth no more than £160m – and probably less. They claim Mr Hiranandani and Mrs Hiranandani-Vandrevala breached their fiduciary duties by failing to disclose that the development periods were unrealistic and the valuations flawed. Hirco Plc has also made a claim for negligence.
The claimants want the case against both defendants to proceed to trial in the Isle of Man. But Mr Hiranandani, who lives and works in Mumbai, rejects all the allegations. He sought for the Manx proceedings to be discontinued or put on hold pending the outcome of arbitration in Singapore, arguing the case has no substantial connection with the Isle of Man and if it has to be tried anywhere, it should be in India.
His daughter, who lives in West London, has started her own separate proceedings in the Isle of Man.
Deemster David Doyle ruled the Manx court was the appropriate forum for the resolution of the dispute.
He said: ‘A significant amount of the claim relates to allegations by a Manx plc against its directors for breach of duties. There are substantial claims with very real and significant Manx connections against both defendants. They should be heard in the Isle of Man.’
Mrs Hiranandani-Vandrevala, 37, is a High Society friend of Prince Charles who sat next to him at his 65th birthday party celebration at Buckingham Palace.
She was a director of Hirco Plc and its chief executive officer from December 2006 to December 2010, while her father was chairman and non-executive director. Hirco had been floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2006, with the purpose of raising funds for proposed investment in the Indian real estate development projects.