Fury over steel tycoon’s €50m bash for daughter

HE didn’t give his workers a cent in redundancy payments and the Irish taxpayer will have to foot a €30 million bill to clean up his steel mill.

Yet tycoon Lakshmi Mittal was able to splash out more than €50 million on his daughter's wedding.

The castle of Vaux le Vicomte in Paris witnessed the most extravagant wedding ever held in Europe. Over five days last week, Mr Mittal wined and dined more than 1,600 guests, taking over two sumptuous mansions once owned by the French monarchy for the celebrations. To hire the buildings alone cost him €600,000.

Around 1,000 guests were flown in on planes chartered from Air India and were booked into two swish hotels. After recently purchasing a house in Kensington, London for €106 million you'd think the steel baron would put some kind of hold on the purse strings. But the cash flowed as freely as the wine.

His daughter, Vanisha, 23, and her new husband, 25-year-old banker Amita Bhatia, watched guests gulp down 5,000 bottles of Mounton Rothschild 1986 costing a whacking €3,125,000. The 2,300 bottles of Dom Perignon 1996 at €109 each added a further €250,700 to the drinks bill.

Entertainment didn't come cheap either. The steel magnate brought in Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue. The 36-year-oldreportedly pocketed €520,000 for half an hour's work the first time she has sung at a private event.

The flaunting of the Indian-born tycoon's wealth has angered union leaders and former workers at his plant in Haulbowline, County Cork.

"It's obscene. It's totally obscene," SIPTU general secretary Joe O'Flynn said. He fought on behalf of 400 workers when Mr Mittal announced he was putting Irish Ispat into liquidation in July 2001. Mr Mittal, estimated to be worth €5.3 billion, refused to offer them any money and instead they were left with only statutory redundancy. Another blow came last February when 164 of them lost a High Court battle to be treated as preferential creditors.

When Mr Mittal put Irish Ispat into liquidation, it owned €57.15 million to workers and other creditors. Losses were said to be running at around €1.2 million a month.

"On average workers with long service got between €15,000 and €20,000. To see now what he's paying out for a wedding is obscene in the context of the tremendous hurt and depravation which he caused to our members," Mr O'Flynn said.

The SIPTU boss accused Mr Mittal of asset-stripping Irish Ispat and urged the Government to pursue multi-billionaire through the courts for the cost of cleaning up the site.

Cork County councillor John Mulvihill, who worked at the plant in the 1980s said: "Every day I hear that Mittal is spending hand over fist. But he didn't spend a penny on the company in Ireland. One friend of mine had more than 40 years of service at the plant and he didn't get a penny from Mittal."

The man in question got around €30,000 in statutory redundancy, which was paid by the Government which is exactly the price of 48 bottles of Mounton Rothschild 1986.

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