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Small group of employees behind fraud at NMC Health, says B.R. Shetty

Dubai: Fraudulent bank accounts were created and cheques issued by a "small group of current and former" executives at NMC Health, according to the founder, the Indian billionaire Dr. B.R. Shetty.

The former chairman of the Abu Dhabi headquartered hospital operator said, investigations he commissioned found:

1. The fraudulent creation and operating of bank accounts in my name including many fraudulent transfers that I neither authorised, consented to, or had any knowledge of.

2. The fraudulent creation of loans, personal guarantees, cheques and bank transfers in my name, and using my forged signature, that I neither authorised, consented to, or had any knowledge of.

3. The creation and set-up of companies in my name that I neither authorised, consented to, or had any knowledge of, and that were seemingly created with the express intention to commit or conceal fraud.

4. The fraudulent creation of powers of attorney, and the misuse of existing powers of attorney, again in my name, that I that I neither authorised, consented to, or had any knowledge of.

5. The creation and provision to me of false and misleading financial statements and information regarding the performance of some of my private companies and investments by members of my own management team.

6. The payments of expenses using my private companies and personal bank accounts, I believe to hide the true financials of the public companies."

This is the first time Dr. Shetty, who has been in India for the last two months and more on a family issue, has issued a statement based on investigations he commissioned privately. He had brought in a consultancy to conduct it after initial revelations came to light that NMC Health had not been fully transparent with its finances.

Dr. Shetty had stepped down as executive chairman after the then Board of Directors barred him from attending any meetings. “I intend to work tirelessly to clear my name and assist any authorities in getting to the truth and help them ensure that misappropriated or missing funds are returned by the perpetrators to their rightful owners,” said Dr. Shetty.

This month, ADCB, which has the highest exposure among UAE banks to NMC Health, brought charges against five former officials, including ex-board of directors, with Abu Dhabi prosecution.

The former CEOs of NMC Health and Finablr are also currently not in the UAE.  

The financial frauds extend to Finablr as well, Dr. Shetty states. Again, the impact is magnified because Finablr is the holding company for UAE Exchange Centre, which is now under UAE Central Bank monitoring and had ceased all remittance activities for weeks now.

There are instances of customers having sent funds as recently as February and which took weeks to be credited. (It is not known as of now whether all these fund transfers have reached their destinations.)

“The preliminary findings provided by my advisors from my own investigations indicate that serious fraud and wrongdoing appears to have taken place at NMC, Finablr PLC (‘Finablr’), as well as within some of my private companies - and against me personally,” said Dr. Shetty in the statement.

“This fraud also appears to have been undertaken by a small group of current and former executives at these companies.”

"To see everything that I have strived to build over the past 45 years eroded over the course of a few short months - and mainly due to the misconduct and wrongdoing of people I put so much trust in - saddens me beyond words. It has also left my entire family in a perilous financial position."

Gulf News earlier this week broke the story that the Central Bank of the UAE instructed financial institutions in the country to search and freeze all bank accounts of Dr. Shetty and his family along with those of companies where he has a stake. The bank has also blacklisted several firms associated with Shetty along with their entire senior management.

"My advisors and I have shared information and evidence from our findings... with relevant law enforcement and regulatory authorities," Dr. Shetty said. "We will continue to proactively share this information as this work continues and in order to assist these parties with their own investigations and inquiries."

"Out of respect for due process and to allow the various UK and UAE authorities and investigations, including my own, to quickly expedite their mandates, I have refrained from making any extensive public statements. This restraint in speaking out has come at great personal cost to me - reputationally and materially.

"However, given my own legal and forensic investigations are now starting to produce some initial findings, and in consideration of some misleading and inaccurate allegations and claims made against me, now is the right time to do so."


Uncertainty

NMC Health is currently under a UK High Court ordered administration, and all decisions being taken by three appointees.

As for UAE Exchange House and Finablr, UAE authorities are still taking stock of the situation.

Together, NMC Health and UAE Exchange House had a staff strength of more than 25,000. And up until mid-December, the two entities were at the top of their game.

“My greatest regret is for the thousands of hardworking employees in the companies we established who are now enduring extreme uncertainty and hardship, especially during the current public health crisis,” said Dr. Shetty. “It also pains me to see the damage caused to my business partners, shareholders and other stakeholders who we have worked with for so long.

“I intend to work tirelessly to clear my name and assist any authorities in getting to the truth and help them ensure that misappropriated or missing funds are returned by the perpetrators to their rightful owners.”