The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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My cousin Nikhil is misleading: Anil

Mumbai, May 3: Anil Ambani today brought cousin Nikhil Meswani, a confidant of Mukesh, into the unending saga of dispute with his elder brother over 'ownership issues'.

Meswani is an executive director on the board of Reliance Industries.

In a fax, Anil's spokesperson said: 'RIL director Nikhil Meswani is deliberately misleading the media and investors on family issues.'

The response from Reliance came shortly thereafter, rubbishing the allegations.

The attack came in the wake of reports that the brothers were close to a settlement being worked out by K.V. Kamath, the ICICI Bank chief and an Ambani family friend for long.

'Nikhil Meswani is not involved in discussions ' and has no locus standi,' the Anil camp declared. So far, Anil has avoided bringing close relatives into the line of fire.

At last week's board meeting, while objecting to several resolutions, Anil had supported the renomination of Hital Meswani, Nikhil's younger brother, as executive director.

Nikhil and Hital are late Dhirubhai Ambani's sister's sons. Their father was closely involved in building the Reliance edifice along with Dhirubhai but passed away at an early age. The Meswani brothers are closely involved in managing the Reliance empire and have the complete confidence of Mukesh.

The statement by Anil's spokesperson was not issued on a letterhead, but the denial from Reliance was.

'Reliance Industries today strongly refuted allegations through a section of the media against Shri Nikhil Meswani, executive director of the company. All allegations against Shri Meswani are baseless,' the RIL spokesperson added.

The strong statement from Anil, publicly attacking his cousin by name, something that has not yet happened in the long and bitter war, is being seen by observers as an attempt to counter the impression created by the reports after last Wednesday's board meeting that the settlement process was on course.

Anil's statement has raised the level of acrimony creeping back towards the height reached before and during the meeting, starting with his declaration that the battle was between 'Reliance XI and Anil Ambani'.

It also shows how the dispute has driven a wedge through the extended family. 'Nikhil Meswani's false briefings violate Sebi (fraudulent and unfair trade practices) regulations and insider trading regulations,' Anil's spokesperson said.

The statement demanded strong regulatory action to protect the interests of Reliance shareholders.

Sebi, the market regulator, is already looking into the manner in which Anil's name was taken off the list of directors of IPCL, a company in the Ambani stable.

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