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The mystery deepens in the murder of Zenotech founder Jayaram Chigurupati

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on February 19, 2019 Published on February 19, 2019

Jayaram Chigurupati (file photo)

Like in real life, in death too, the story of serial entrepreneur Jayaram Chigurupati is taking several twists and turns.

Three weeks after his suspicious death, the mystery surrounding the 55-year-old, non-resident Indian businessman has only deepened.

The Andhra Pradesh police have claimed that they have cracked the case and identified Rakesh Reddy, a financier and realtor as the main accused.

A quarrel over Rs 5 crore defaulted by Jayaram, led to the ghastly murder, police said, however, several aspects like land deals, bank issues and his private life have kept the case alive and has thrown up several questions.

Jayaram’s wife Padma Sri, who flew down from the US in the wake of the tragedy, has expressed displeasure at the way the investigation has gone forward and vowed to stay put and fight for justice. She also announced keen interest into the affairs of the companies her husband managed. She filed a complaint in Hyderabad and the case has been transferred to the Telangana Police.

Future of enterprises

Jayaram was based out of Florida, US. His wife and children stay there and he used to visit Hyderabad to manage businesses, including Hemarus Therapeutics Ltd, Techtran Polylenses, Coastal Local Area Bank, Zenotech etc.

Hemarus, which produces blood plasma based products like immunoglobins, albumin etc., is running normally said a top executive of the company which has manufacturing unit in Turkapally, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

The niche venture, with three indigenously developed products, including Immuglo and Hemath, is doing well in the market. Known formerly as Credence Clinical, the privately held company was registered in 2012 and has seen significant investments in it.

It’s growth also prompted Jayaram to set up a unit in Florida, which is managed by his wife, and the business has a plan to get US FDA approvals.

Problem ventures

The problem ventures in Jayaram’s fast expanding but unrelated diversification were Express TV, a 24/7 Telugu channel and Techtran Polylenses. While the media venture failed, Jayaram lost money and invited employee ire in considerable measure.

According to the investigating agencies who grilled Rakesh Reddy, Jayaram owed over Rs 5 crore to Reddy which was supposed help him pull out of the sinking Techtran Polylenses.

Jayaram had acquired the publicly-listed Techtran Polylenses, which manufactured and exported plastic ophthalmic lenses, in 2010. After initial success and promising to emerge as a major brand in the market, its fortunes nosedived around 2015 due to competition from China and shift in market trends.

Jayaram's entry into the financial sector was reasonably successful. The Vijayawada based, Coastal Bank, categorised as a Local Area Bank got the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approval in 1999. It grew rapidly in five districts of Krishna, Guntur, East & West Godavari and Visakhapatnam and operates over 50 branches. It’s focus is micro-loans with under 15 per cent interest and was growing steadily. Here again, the sudden death of the main promoter raises several issues.

Modus operandi

According to the police, Jayaram was honey-trapped, coerced and beaten before being killed. They said Rakesh Reddy allegedly got a lady invite Jayaram to a house in the posh Jubilee Hills on January 30.

Once in the house, Reddy with a couple associates tried to persuade Jayaram to payhis dues through cash, mortgage properties etc. The police allege that the group hit Jayaram in desperation, who could have succumbed to his injuries.

To cover up the murder, the group drove the body to Nandigama highway on January 31 and tried make the death look like an accident, however, their plan quickly failed.

Published on February 19, 2019
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