CCD founder Siddhartha goes missing near Mangaluru

Our Bureau Mangaluru/Bengaluru July 30 | Updated on July 30, 2019 Published on July 30, 2019

A file photo of VG Siddartha, Chairman, Café Coffee Day

In purported letter, businessman has accused private equity firm, IT dept of harassing him

A massive search operation was set in motion on Tuesday after reports emerged that VG Siddhartha, entrepreneur and founder of the popular Cafe Coffee Day chain and the original investor of IT company Mindtree had gone missing near a bridge over river Netravathi in Mangaluru on Monday night. The Karnataka government has pressed into service battalions of the Indian Coast Guard and personnel from the State fire services department and the Coastal Police to trace Siddhartha.

According to a police complaint filed by his driver, Siddhartha asked him to stop the car near the Ullal Bridge on the River Netravathi on July 29 around 8 p.m. as he said he wanted to make a phone call. The driver last saw him walking across the bridge. But when he did not turn up after 45 minutes, the driver alerted Siddhartha’s son who asked him to file a complaint with the local police.

Within hours of the incident, a letter claimed to be written by Siddhartha to the board and employees of Coffee Day Enterprises, which runs the Cafe Coffee Day chain, started circulating in the social media.

In the letter dated July 27, Siddhartha had accused a private equity firm and a former DG of the Income Tax Department of harassing him.

“I am sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me, I thought 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.” The I-T Department has, however, denied all the charges made in the letter.

Click here to read the note

He also claimed that that there was a lot of harassment from the previous DG of Income Tax whom he did not name in the letter.

“I sincerely request each of you to be strong and to continue running these businesses with a new management. I am solely responsible for all mistakes. I have failed as an entrepreneur. I hope someday you will understand, forgive and pardon me.”

He said he had failed as an entrepreneur and that the law should hold me and only me accountable as I have withheld information from everybody including his family.”

The son-in-law of former union minister and chief minister of Karnataka SM Krishna, the media-shy Siddhartha was known for his knack of spotting business opportunities.

He launched the Indian version of Starbucks in 1996 and later helped a clutch of IT professionals to set up Mindtree.

He later sold of his entire 20.4 per cent stake in the company for ₹3,269 crore, which eventually led to a hostile takeover by L&T.

Meanwhile, several politicians and film stars visited Krishna’s house in Bengaluru to offer their sympathies. Former minister in the JD(S)-Congress Coalition DK Shivkumar told newspersons later that he suspected foul play as he claimed that Siddhartha had phoned him on July 28 and wanted to meet him in person.

A press release by Ajay Chaturvedi, Commandant and Joint Director (Search and Rescue) of Indian Coast Guard, said that its hovercraft H-198 undertook search over the Nethrvathi River. Three Coast Guard diving teams, along with District Disaster Relief Team, were deputed to carry out search for the missing person.

Coffee Day Enterprises on Tuesday said it is assessing the situation and formulating appropriate steps to ensure business operations are unaffected.

The company’s board has held emergency meeting and also reviewed the letter purportedly signed by Siddhartha and shared copies with relevant authorities, the company said in a regulatory filing

Published on July 30, 2019
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor