Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru (DV)
Mangaluru, Mar 4: Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty fondly known as Dr B R Shetty, is an Indian pharmacist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who strived hard to build healthcare facilities and improve the quality of life for people in the UAE and across the world. His companies span across healthcare, pharmaceutical, financial services, education, hospitality, agribusiness and environmental sectors.
Dr Shetty has won several national and international awards. He received the Padma Shri award in 2009 for his contribution in the field of trade and industry.
In a special interview with Daijiworld editor-in-chief, Walter Nandalike on Daijiworld TV 24*7, Dr Shetty opens up about his life and current issues.
DW: For the past 2.5 years, nearly 10,000 children and 2 lac patients received treatment free of cost from the government of Karnataka at Koosamma Shambhu Shetty Memorial Haji Abdullah Mother and Child Hospital, Udupi. Thanks to your noble initiative. Congratulations to you. When you took the initiative to start the hospital, there was opposition. Even in Udupi, several people opposed it. What do all of them say now?
Shetty: Frankly speaking, I wanted to start this hospital long time ago. When I was the vice-chairman of Udupi Municipal Council, the poor section of the society voted for me. V S Acharya was the president and I was the vice-chairman. In 1972, I did not have a single rupee. But I secured more votes than Acharya and hence he made me the chairman. Then, K K Pai supported me, so I went to Abu Dhabi. With due regards to my father Shambhu Shetty, Pai gave me a loan. He also stated that one day I will shine. Within a year, I repaid the loan which I borrowed from Pai. I never thought that I will clear the loan which I borrowed. Then I felt as if I was the richest man. I do not owe money to anyone. It is a unique feeling.
DW: Now, those who opposed and were against you in Udupi are silent?
Shetty: They are not my opposers.
DW: But they opposed your project?
Shetty: Yes, they had opposed my project. I do not know the reason. I have ten acres of land in Udupi. I would have constructed a hospital there. As a medical representative, I used to go there to market medicines. Once, when I returned from Abu Dhabi, I visited the hospital. The roof tiles were broken. There were pregnant women. Water was leaking from the roof in the operation theatre. After seeing such a situation, I decided to run the hospital and submitted the proposal. The then health minister Ramesh Kumar supported that. As a health minister, he gave permission to run the hospital. In this hospital, everything is free of cost.
DW: During the time of your distress, have you not approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help you. Because he is close to you.
Shetty: He is the Prime Minister of India and the leader of the whole world. Why should I approach him for my business? This is my affair. I have never made up my mind to visit him and it is not necessary. I am confident as I have never cheated anyone. I appointed those people and promoted them. I never thought they would do such things to me. Both were charted accountants. I cannot speak against them as the matter is before the court.
DW: To our viewers and to your fans in various countries, could you brief the reality.
Shetty: I am telling the truth. This is my personal affair. Why should I meet the PM? I will handle all the litigation.
DW: How did this problem arise or how did your empire witness such a crisis?
Shetty: Everyone should know the reality. I am opening up here for the first time as I have the proof. My chartered accountants have made fake accounts in my name. People whom I treated like my own children, have done so. They created a fake account in a nationalised bank. They have misused the power of attorney. When accepting papers, the bank manager should have asked me to sign on them right before him. They have deposited the siphoned cash to that account and deposited the cash to their family members and to my staff. The staff including accountants and treasurers were appointed by me. They were silent because cash was paid to them. They were with me for 20 years. Everyone knows that. They are the richest people now due to the stolen money. They may keep cash in any other banks, we have got the money trail. We have the complete records and they have been submitted to the court. When I approached the court in India, there was the problem with jurisdiction. Can you believe that I could not even register a case in India?
DW: When you returned from Abu Dhabi, there was a rumour that B R Shetty fled the country.
Shetty: I left Abu Dhabi on February 4 on a $250 million personal guarantee. I went straight to Varanasi to lay the foundation stone for Sant Kabir Hospital. I was supposed to return to Abu Dhabi on February 7. It is unbelievable how God helped me. My elder brother was at his residence. Fifteen minutes after my flight took off from Delhi to Abu Dhabi, I told my pilot to return. I wanted to go back to Bengaluru to see my brother. He was in Manipal Hospital. I went to the hospital and his condition was serious and deteriorating. He passed away on March 20. It was a time of Covid. We could not bring his mortal remains. His only wish was to take the body to our ancestral house in Kaup. Bengaluru commissioner issued permission orders at the last minute. If I had been to Abu Dhabi, I would not return as it was Covid time then. There were no flights.
DW: This is a tough time. Before this crisis, you were so active.
Shetty: Every day is a challenging one. I am involved in one issue or the other every day due to people who cheated me. They all used fake signatures. Let me tell you, one bank approached me stating that I have taken a loan. But, on the same day, I was in Cairo. There is a hospital in Cairo. My daughter proved it. The judge got annoyed and cancelled the case. Till date, the case has not been heard.
DW: UAE Exchange was your brainchild, but news on it circulated that it was purchased for USD 1, is there any truth in this?
Shetty: Media is known for exaggerating things.
DW: A businessman from Kerala, through a television channel declared that he was behind UAE Exchange in Abu Dhabi. What do you have to say about this?
Shetty: Good question. The businessman you are referring to is Daniel Varghese. A person named Ramchandran Menon who works in Indian Embassy asked me to make him and Moosly Ahmed, who is from Bangladesh, a partner in UAE Exchange. However, since they are government employees (inspectors of the central bank), they are not supposed to indulge in business. Following which they displayed their spouse as partners to siphon funds. Nineteen million was the amount. One of my partners, the former minister of Justice came to me and claimed that I introduced him to them. If partners collapse, the UAE exchange collapses, if the UAE Exchange collapse, NMC will collapse. Hence, paying four million Dirhams in addition. I purchased UAE exchange by giving 24 million Dirhams.
DW: There was news that all your assets have been frozen. How far is this true?
Shetty: Yes. That is true.
DW: You are prepared to return to Abu Dhabi. How did you get the confidence to return?
Shetty: I have confidence because I have not done anything wrong. Rulers in Abu Dhabi also know that I will never do such things. Let us see what the future holds. I am not alarmed at all. I am confident that I will come back stronger than before. In India, I do not have even a rupee loan.
DW: At present what is your role in NMC?
Shetty: I have a minor share in NMC. It is nothing much, it is almost negligible.
DW: What do you have to say about your family and friends who stood beside you during distress?
Shetty: My wife is important to me. She did not question me even once. Her support has boosted my courage and confidence. This situation has put my family in distress but still, they do not question me. They trust me enough and know that I have not done anything.
DW: People are thinking that B R Shetty has lost all the assets which he earned.
Shetty: I am not going to lie but my asset is 1:1.
DW: You had availed a loan to travel to Abu Dhabi, and built an empire. How do you feel when you look back on your growth from decades?
Shetty: The surplus money that I had was invested to start another company. I did it with the intention to generate employment opportunities. I have 50 companies. I keep society first and then my family. If I start a company, I can give employment to youths. I have employed 60,000 people. It is because of their prayers that I still stand strong.
DW: People are enthusiastic to know that though B R Shetty is facing dire situations, how is it that he is still confident? My question is, B R Shetty who was busy for decades, how is he going to spend time in his Bengaluru or Mangaluru residence?
Shetty: I cannot sit idle at home. I keep myself busy with one or the other work. My son would always tell me to stay vigil and I would always advise him to not interfere. He then stopped interfering and I regret not listening to him. In recent times, it is very difficult to trust anybody. I never imagined that I would be deceived. My trust was broken by people who would come to my home, take my blessings. These are those who stole money from me and fabricated stories. They accused me of bribing them with a Bentley car. I did not do any such thing, instead, they gave me the key.
DW: What is your message to budding entrepreneurs?
Shetty: I believe in corporate governance. Not that it is the best form of management. But an entrepreneur should solely focus on the business. Scrutinize the documents that come before you and make sure that other accountants double-check it too. I was approached at times for signature when I was neck-deep in work.
DW: Do you think the trust you vested in certain people proved to be a problem for you?
Shetty: Definitely. I did not trust anyone but the two boys. I had openly referred to them as my two eyes.
DW: People in coastal Karnataka have always seen you as someone who is exuberating with confidence. You have received numerous national and international awards. You are acquainted with famous personalities. What is the message you wish to give your fans?
Shetty: Even today in UAE, students consider me to be an example. I told a girl in New York University at Abu Dhabi that she should take the opportunity to find an opportunity. I came to UAE in search of a job and in the search of a job, I became successful. I was the first outdoor salesman in the country. As a pharmacist, I was the first person to do outdoor selling.
DW: Any message you would like to give to the people of Tulunadu?
Shetty: To my friends and family, have faith. Do not get disappointed with this chapter in my life. I will overcome this victoriously and will be back bigger than before. Life is like ECG, it should go up and down otherwise you cease to be alive. I am grateful to the royal family of Abu Dhabi for their benevolence and support they have given me in all aspects.
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