ADCB secures freezing order on BR Shetty's assets

ADGM Courts allows for local and worldwide halt on sales of investments held in the emirate

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - December 31, 2009: Dr B. R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO of NMC Group (NMC Specialty Hospital, UAE Exchange, Neopharma) sits for a portrait in his office. 
( Ryan Carter / The National ) *** Local Caption ***  RC007-DrShetty20091231.jpg
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Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank secured an asset freezing order against NMC Health founder BR Shetty and five UAE-based companies owned by him in the Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts.

The court ruling prohibits Mr Shetty from dealing in shares of five of his companies, grants a domestic freezing order on his assets and a worldwide freezing order on assets held by him and the five entities.

In granting the order, the judge Justice Andrew Smith ruled that Mr Shetty has control over the companies and "there is a substantial risk that he will 'dissipate' his own assets".

A spokesman for ADCB declined to comment on the ruling as legal action is ongoing. Mr Shetty did not respond to requests to comment.

NMC Health fell into insolvency last year and ADCB is its biggest creditor.

NMC Health was founded by Mr Shetty in 1975 and grew to be Abu Dhabi's biggest privately-owned healthcare company. However, the company was placed into administration last year after an independent investigation uncovered more than $4.4 billion of previously undisclosed debt.

The lender "contends that the reason for the group's insolvency was fraud on a massive scale, and that Mr Shetty was a participant", the order states.

It follows on from action taken by ADCB in the English courts in December last year granting a worldwide freezing order on the assets of Mr Shetty and five other former NMC shareholders and directors, which granted permission to the lender to seek a domestic freezing order in Abu Dhabi. The five companies named in the ADGM Court order are BRS Investments Holdings 1, BRS Investments Holdings 2, BRS Investments Holdings 3, BRS Investment Property and BRS Health.

"Mr Shetty denies that he was party to any fraud, and told me that he himself was a victim of greed and fraudulent conduct of others associated with the NMC Group, who arranged for a bogus account to be opened in his name at the Bank of Baroda and for monies to be transferred into it," Justice Smith said in the ruling granting the order. "He is anxious to clear his name and restore his reputation."

Alvarez & Marsal was appointed as administrator of the group's UK-listed entity in April last year and of more than 30 UAE entities in September.

The administrators have since sold off non-core assets and said earlier this month they are working on a restructuring that could lead to about $4bn of existing debts being forgiven to bring the group's debt back down to a more manageable level of about $2.25bn. The group continues to perform well, with gross revenue 14 per cent higher than in an earlier business plan presented to lenders and the number of patients treated 20 per cent higher year-on-year, administrators said.

ADCB reported a five-fold increase in first quarter net profit to Dh1.12bn ($305 million) on Sunday as impairments fell 63 per cent to Dh704m. It has so far recorded provisions worth about Dh1.65bn related to NMC, but chief financial officer Deepak Khullar said the bank believes existing levels are "prudent and appropriate" given the progress being made in its restructuring.