Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) Owner VG Siddhartha Missing News: Cafe Coffee Day owner VG Siddhartha, the son-in-law of former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna, was reported missing from Mangaluru on Tuesday after leaving for the city from Bengaluru the previous night. Siddhartha, who was en route a business trip to Sakaleshpur, was last seen near Ullal bridge over the Netravati River, reported news agency PTI.
Siddhartha, 55, reportedly asked his driver to take him near the bridge, from where he got down and said he was going for a walk. “He (Siddhartha) asked the driver to wait till his arrival. When he did not return even after two hours, the driver approached the police and lodged a missing complaint,” deputy commissioner of Dakshina Kannada district Senthil Sasikant Senthil said.
In a purported letter, shared by news agency ANI and others, to the Board of Directors of his company and “Coffee Day family”, dated July 27, Siddhartha said he had “failed to create the right profitable business model”, and said he was “very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me”. Meanwhile, the shares of the coffee chain plunged 20 per cent in early trading on Tuesday.
“I fought 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 partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend. Tremendous pressure from other lenders lead to me succumbing to the situation,” Siddhartha wrote.
Siddhartha also mentions the “harassment” he allegedly faced at the hands of Income Tax officials. “There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG Income Tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our MindTree deal and then taking position of our Coffee Day shares, although the revised returns have been filed by us. This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch.”
In the letter, Siddhartha has also taken responsibility for all financial transactions, which, he said, nobody was aware of. “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. Every financial transaction is my responsibility. My team, auditors and senior management are totally unaware of all my transactions. The law should hold me, and only me accountable, as I have withheld this information from everybody, including my family.”
He further wrote: “My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody. I have failed as an entrepreneur. This is my sincere submission, I hope some day you will understand, forgive and pardon me.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from CCD head office in Bengaluru said the company is yet to confirm the genuineness of the letter. “We are still in shock and our employees are still hoping for the best. As of now, we are yet to confirm the genuineness of the letter that is being flashed in media. We are here to ensure that business will not be hit in any circumstances,” the spokesperson said.
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Cafe Coffee Day owner VG Siddhartha missing: There are 25 boats with divers searching for him near Ullal bridge over the Nethravathi River. (ANI Photo)
Cafe chain operator Coffee Day Enterprises said it is evaluating and assessing the situation after its chairman V G Siddhartha went missing since Monday evening.
There are over 200 policemen and divers on about 25 boats searching for Siddhartha at the bridge. Sniffer dogs have also been deployed at the site. “The help of local fishermen is being taken in the search. We are checking who all he spoke to over phone,” Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil, reported PTI.
As 15 hours passed after CCD founder VG Siddhartha went missing, diving experts from The Indian Navy in Karwar have joined to intensify the ongoing search operation. “We had begun search operations last night itself. Over 50 people in 8 boats are now on duty. Two ships from Coast Guard and a helicopter from Goa will be brought in soon,” said Sasikanth Senthil, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner. He is overseeing search operations at Ullal bridge cross the Nethravathi River near Mangalore. The Indian Coast Guard also joined the search operation and has deployed a ship off the old Mangalore port. Three diving teams have been pressed by the Coast Guard, PTI reported.
However, due to the rain in coastal Karnataka, the water level in the river has gone up to a serious level and is causing a problem for a speedy search operation, BJP leader Shobha Karandlaje informed Union Home Minister Amit Shah. A group of Karnataka BJP MPs led by Karandlaje met Shah today and sought help from the Centre in tracing the missing CCD founder. “The heavy rains and the current weather conditions in Karnataka is causing problem for the speedy search operation. Therefore, I request your good self to help government of Karnataka by sending coastal guard, central forces and helicopters in this search operation…,” PTI quoted her as saying.
Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa and Congress leader D K Shivakumar visited Krishna at his residence in Bengaluru this morning. Krishna had served as the external affairs minister from 2009 to October 2012 in the UPA-II government and as the 16th chief minister of Karnataka.
“I was shocked when I got the news. Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner have ordered a search operation, which is being carried out with support from locals,” Congress leader U T Khader, who is at the site of the search operation, was quoted as saying by ANI.
This is a developing story. More details awaited.
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