UAE Freezes Bank Accounts of Richest Indian, Blacklists Firms

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B R Shetty- File photo

Dubai: UAE has ordered to freeze all bank accounts of Indian billionaire BR Shetty and his family and has also blacklisted several firms associated with him along with their entire senior management.

According to Gulf News, the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) instructed all the financial institutions to stop transfers from the accounts of Shetty and deny access to deposit boxes. Issuing an advisory last week, the apex bank cited decisions of the Federal Attorney General and asked financial institutions to search and freeze any bank accounts, deposits or investments in the name of Shetty or his family members.

Bavaguthu Raghuram (B.R.) Shetty, founder of NMC Health and UAE Exchange, has been in trouble since February. Shetty stepped down as co-chairman of NMC Health in February after the company’s shares fell over 70 per cent since December. The drop in shares came following allegations by a US investment firm that NMC Health inflated cash balances and understated its debt.

B.R. Shetty, who migrated to the UAE in 1973 from his native Karnataka, started work as a pharmaceutical salesman. With the success of his businesses, B.R. Shetty was regarded as the UAE’s richest Indian, having a net worth of about $3.15 billion in 2019, according to Forbes. NMC Health operates around 200 hospitals and clinics in 19 countries.

Following the allegations about malpractices, it has been reported NMC Health had a debt of over $6 billion.

On Sunday, media outlets in the UAE reported that the Central Bank of the UAE has ordered financial institutions to freeze all accounts of B.R. Shetty and his family. The Khaleej Times reported several companies associated with Shetty had been blacklisted.

The Khaleej Times reported, “The CBUAE move is subsequent to a criminal complaint filed by Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which has the largest exposure of Dh3 billion (UAE dirhams) to NMC Healthcare, alleging ‘fraud and forgery’ against six people, including founder Shetty and former CEO Prasnath Manghat.”

Shetty moved to India last month citing personal reasons.

Earlier this month, news reports said, “Indian agencies will be looking at Shetty’s exposure to Indian banks given the active legal cases in UAE pertaining to fraud and forgery”.

Interestingly, B.R. Shetty was an activist of the erstwhile Jan Sangh, the predecessor to the BJP, before he went to the UAE. Economic Times reported that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had campaigned for Shetty during civic polls in Udupi in the 1960s. Shetty had played a key role in organising a visit of Modi to Abu Dhabi in August last year.

During Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UAE – Shetty pledged $1 billion for a “film city” in Kashmir that he said would be spread over 12 square kilometre area and would cater to the India’s booming film industry.

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