Former NMC Health and Finablr executives at centre of Dh1bn BR Shetty dispute with Indian bank

Reports commissioned by Shetty are part of legal action over transfers made by the bank

Reports commissioned by BR Shetty, the founder of NMC Health and Finablr, have accused the chief executives who were running his businesses of siphoning off millions of dirhams of money.

Prasanth Manghat, the former chief executive of NMC Health, and his brother Promoth, who led Finablr, are accused in the documents seen by The National of "[de]frauding both companies and embezzling their funds" by routing money through Mr Shetty's personal accounts before transferring sums directly to themselves or their associates. The two men have refuted the allegations made in the reports and say they have not received any unlawful payments.

The collapse of NMC Health remains under investigation by authorities and the company's administrators. The company's biggest lender, ADCB, initiated criminal legal proceedings with the attorney general in Abu Dhabi against Mr Shetty, who is currently in India, and a number of other individuals. A worldwide freezing order on Mr Shetty's assets has also been issued by the DIFC Courts following a claim filed by Credit Europe Bank.

The reports by Dubai-based Wise House Consulting are understood to form part of a court dispute between Mr Shetty and Bank of Baroda in India.

One claim is that Prasanth Manghat and other NMC employees “made payment transactions on the personal account of Mr Shetty at the Bank of Baroda, without having any authority or delegation on the account and sent transfer orders attributed to Mr Shetty”. The transactions had a value of more than Dh1bn, the report claims.

Another states that 11 cheques with a combined value of more than Dh232.5 million paid through a Bank of Baroda account which Mr Shetty said he was not aware of, and for which "there was no legitimate reason" for payments. It cites Obaid Al-Bah, a forgery and counterfeit expert, as stating signatures on the cheques were forgeries.

A further claim made is that Promoth Manghat, the former chief executive of Finablr and another employee opened an account with a UAE bank using “a forged account opening form” in Mr Shetty's name that gave them the authority to run the account.

Some Dh907m of transactions went through the account, including Dh17.3m directly to Mr Manghat and two other Finablr employees, it is claimed.

An account held in the name of one of Mr Shetty's other companies, Guide Contracting, had Dh150m transferred into it by NMC Health and Dh48m from Finablr, it is claimed. Some funds from this account were transferred "to themselves, unrelated parties, other persons, their affiliates, and employees". More than a dozen other NMC and Finablr employees were also named as "parties involved in the investigated fraudulent transactions" in the reports commissioned by Mr Shetty.

Such actions may have had "a fundamental effect on the financial statements and funds of the two companies", both of which revealed large, previously undeclared debts earlier this year.

“It is categorically denied that either Mr Prasanth or Mr Promoth Manghat have received any unlawful payments, and they strongly refute the accusations made that seem to be designed maliciously to distract attention away from those responsible for damaging the highly successful businesses they helped create,” a spokesman for the brothers said.

“Whilst the matter is sub-judice they cannot comment further, other than to say that Mr Prasanth offered and is making progress towards assisting the NMC administrators, and Mr Promoth is pleased to see that both Travelex and UAE Exchange are moving towards a more financially stable position.”

NMC Health and the administrators declined to comment on the matter. A spokesman for Mr Shetty also declined to comment.

Finablr did not respond to requests from The National to comment.

A spokeswoman for Bank of Baroda said "extant guidelines were followed while undertaking the transactions" highlighted in the reports.

NMC Health was founded by Mr Shetty in 1975 and grew from a single hospital into the UAE’s biggest privately-owned healthcare operator.

The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2012 and was valued at £8.58bn (Dh40bn) at its peak but fell into administration in April after the company declared its debts, at $6.6bn, were materially higher than the $2.1bn previously stated in its accounts.

Finablr, a group of foreign exchange and digital payment companies, is also seeking fresh funding after declaring in May that its debts were about $1bh higher than the $334.1m previously declared in its accounts. Its Travelex foreign exchange company has already been taken over by its lenders and its UAE Exchange arm has been overseen by the UAE Central Bank since March.

Mr Shetty, who remains Finablr's majority shareholder, stepped down from his role as co-chairman of the company last week.

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS