From Udupi to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), billionaire businessman Bhavaguttu Raghuram Shetty’s (B.R Shetty’s) journey was nothing short of remarkable until 2019, when allegations of misappropriation of money and other fraudulent practices surfaced in the companies he owned, mainly London-listed NMC Health Plc.
In a two-page statement issued on Wednesday, Shetty finally broke his silence, claiming innocence in the alleged financial irregularities in NMC Health and said he is pursuing legal action and remedies.
“...The preliminary findings provided by my advisors and from my own investigations indicate that serious fraud and wrongdoing appears to have taken place at NMC and Finablr PLC (‘Finablr’), as well as within some of my private companies, and against me personally. This fraud also appears to have been undertaken by a small group of current and former executives at these companies," Shetty said in the statement.
In a telephonic interview, Shetty said, “...I will do everything in my powers to bring the people who have misused my trust and confidence in them to the books of law with my fullest co-operation to the mandate holders in the United Kingdom and the UAE".
Shetty added that he has filed criminal cases in the Federal Court of Abu Dhabi against a group of executives, including the CEO and 10 others who violated his trust.
“...I will go to the last drop of my blood to bring them back by the neck. I am thankful to the royal family of Abu Dhabi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for forging a friendship with Abu Dhabi and making me a part of it. I will bounce back," said Shetty, who is currently in Mangaluru, waiting for the governments of Abu Dhabi and the UK to make their moves.
According to the charges, Shetty’s firms NMC (UK-listed firm) and Finablr borrowed to the tune of $6.6 billion, including $360 million via convertible bonds and $400 million through Shariah-compliant Sukuk bonds.
There are allegations that 60% of these borrowings were not reported by the firm. The allegations also include that the company had used debt facilities from 80 financial institutions, but the funds were not used for the company it was intended for.
Had the sordid drama not unfolded in the West Asian country, Shetty would have celebrated the golden jubilee of his public life in 2022. In 1972, he had entered local politics to become vice-chairman of the Udupi town municipal council, where he served for a year, and then became the first medical representative from coastal Karnataka to go to West Asia in 1973.
Born in Kapu, a small town in coastal Karnataka’s Udupi district, Shetty went on to set up New Medical Centre (NMC), a clinic in Abu Dhabi that later became the healthcare giant NMC Health. By 1980, he had opened UAE Exchange, a remittance firm. There was no looking back after that.
Shetty’s statement blamed a group of current and former employees who he said fraudulently created and operated bank accounts in his name, and made fraudulent transfers that he neither authorized, consented to, nor had any knowledge of. He has also alleged there was fraudulent creation of loans, personal guarantees, cheques and bank transfers in his name without his knowledge. In all these cases, his signature had been forged, he claimed.
“I have resigned from all executive posts that I held in NMC on 16 February to allow the authorities in United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates to quickly expedite their mandates. I had also abdicated all executive roles in NMC Health in 2017. My involvement was limited to being a non-executive joint chairman and a shareholder. I am shocked to know that such big bank loans have been taken in my name without my knowledge and so many other improprieties have been committed by people who had worked closely with me," he said.
Shetty has also stated that he will remain fully committed to working with NMC and Finablr and all relevant authorities in the UAE and the UK to ensure that all stakeholders are provided with the authentic information.
Shetty said, “I had based my business on the bedrock of values and fundamental principles of hard work, determination, integrity and trust for the last 45 years. This great country (the UAE) has given me huge support in establishing my business and grow here but the recent happenings due to some individuals I have to face such a situation".