Business

The dark side of B.R. Shetty

Is the fraud-accused owner of Abu Dhabi-headquartered NMC Health innocent or guilty? Either way, his much-lauded businesses have a murky past.

Late last month, B.R. Shetty, 78, was accused of serious fraud and forgery by the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, the third largest bank in the UAE and the biggest lender to his hospital chain. His assets and those of his family members, three degrees removed, are being frozen. Shetty, who is currently in his home state of Karnataka, says he has done no wrong and was tricked by his close employees and associates. Investigators have found that Shetty’s two flagship companies—the London-listed NMC Health and Finablr—forged accounts to misreport debt on their books.

A former managing director with a public sector bank, who asked not to be named, says, “Nobody will touch Shetty now. With a trail of high-profile failed projects, bankers and government are bound to stay away. With the cloud of fraud, even his assets will find few buyers until banks auction them.”

That’s a big fall from grace for someone who has been recognized by governments in both India and the UAE with their respective civilian honours. Most stories about Shetty paint him as a benevolent and emotional businessman ready to underwrite a good cause.

The moot question: Was Shetty the victim or the perpetrator?

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Lead photo of B.R. Shetty (second from left) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, October 2015, via the Press Information Bureau.

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