New Delhi: More than 48 hours after Cafe Coffee Day founder and former Karnataka CM SM Krishnan's son-in-law VG Siddhartha went missing, Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw in an exclusive conversation with CNN-News18 took a dig at the current system of financial investigations in India and said that we have "moved from license raj to inspector raj, which is seriously bothering India Inc".
Popularly known as the Coffee King of India, Siddhartha, in his last letter, had alleged harassment by the previous DG, Income Tax. “There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG income tax attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taking position of our Cafe Coffee Day shares, although the revised returns have been filed by us. This is very unfair and has led to serious liquidity crunch,” the letter read.
Seconding the same, Shaw in the interview said, “There is an effort to clean India Inc but the pendulum cannot swing from one extreme to the other. It has to be in a phased out manner. The government needs to exchange with honest businessmen.”
The Cafe Coffee Day owner found himself in trouble in 2017 when the Income Tax Department first raided his premises and found Rs 650 crore concealed income from the documents seized while concluding the search and seize operations.
Mazumdar, a close friend of Siddhartha and an entrepreneur from the same city, Bengaluru, expressed shock at the ‘extreme step’, and said, “The letter and the action he has taken is a reflection of the helplessness and the hopelessness that his financial situation has brought to him.”
“I am sure he is not alone in this. Many companies have been facing the same kind of IT and ED investigation along with similar kinds of hostility from private quity partners,” she added.
Siddhartha, in his letter, had also pointed at one of his private equity partners for creating ‘pressure’ to buy back stocks. “I fought for a long time but today I gave up as I could not take any more pressure from one of the private equity partners forcing me to buy back shares, a transaction, I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend,” he wrote.
Siddhartha had in March this year made the headlines for selling his stake in Mindtree to L&T, which then mounted the first hostile takeover in Indian IT industry.
The Coffee King of India went missing on Monday evening when he got off from his car near a bridge across the Nethravathi River near Mangalore, about 375km from Bengaluru, but did not return even after an hour. A panicked driver went down looking for him, but could not find him anywhere. He then alerted the family members who in turn informed the police.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Siddhartha's body was recovered from Netravathi River on Wednesday morning.