What was rubbished by the Wadia Group as “fake new” last month has turned out to be true. Group scion Ness Wadia has been sentenced by a Japanese court for alleged illegal possession of drugs. Wadia, MD of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, which has holdings in most of the Wadia Group firms such as Britannia Industries, Bombay Dyeing and GoAir, was arrested in Japan, where he was holidaying, in March, according to a report by British financial daily Financial Times .
A Wadia Group spokesperson had denied his arrest in response to an email sent by BusinessLine on March 27. “There are several rumours circulating which have no truth to them, being false and incorrect. They are fake news,” the spokesperson had said in the reply.
Wadia, son of industrialist Nusli Wadia and heir to the 283-year-old Wadia Group, was arrested in early March at New Chitose Airport in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Customs had reportedly recovered 25 grams of cannabis resin in his trouser pocket.
According to reports, Wadia admitted to possession of drugs that was meant for personal use and spent a period in detention before his indictment on March 20 and an undisclosed period of detention before a court hearing. The court awarded him a two-year prison sentence, which was suspended for five years. This means the serving of the sentence is delayed to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation. If the defendant does not break the law during the period and fulfils the probation conditions, the judge usually dismisses the sentence.
Following the reports of Wadia’s arrest, all stocks of Wadia Group’s listed entities, valued at $13.1 billion, took a beating today at the stock exchanges with investors apprehending his resignation from key positions in the group companies.
However, the company clarified in a statement: “Ness Wadia is in India. The judgment is clear and it is a suspended sentence. Hence it will not impact Ness Wadia in the discharge of any of his responsibilities.”
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