VG Siddhartha says failed as an entrepreneur, disappears two days later

VG Siddhartha
"I have failed as an entrepreneur," V G Siddhartha, who has gone missing, has said in a letter purportedly written to the Board of Directors and employees of Coffee Day Enterprises, he founded.

"After 37 years, with strong commitment to hard work, having directly created 30,000 jobs in our companies and their subsidiaries, as well as 20,000 jobs in technology company where I have been a large shareholder since its founding, I have failed to create the right profitable business model despite my best efforts", he said.

"I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people who have put their trust in me," he said in the letter, widely circulated in the social media.

There was no immediate confirmation on whether the letter was indeed written by Siddhartha.

Siddhartha said he 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 had 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", he said.

Siddhartha alleged in the letter that 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 possession of our Coffee Day shares, although revised returns have been filed by us".

"This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch," he said.

"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," Siddhartha said adding his team, auditors and senior management were "unaware" of his transactions.

Siddhartha said the law should hold him accountable, as he had withheld this information from everybody including his family.

Claiming that his intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, he said, "I have failed as an entreprenuer. This is my sincere submission. I hope someday you will understand, forgive and pardon me".

Siddhartha said "...our assets outweigh our liabilities and can help repay everybody".

Siddhartha, the son-in-law of former Karnataka chief minister S M Krishna, was reported to have gone missing after he left from Bengaluru on Monday night, police said.

According to the police, Siddhartha was last seen near a bridge across the Netravati river in the Kotepura area in Dakshina Kannada district on Monday night.

Teams of National Disaster Response Force, Coast Guard, Home Guard, fire services and coastal police have been pressed into service to trace Siddhartha.

Local fisherman, along with their boats, have also joined in the search operations.

Siddhartha had left from Bengaluru to Sakleshpur in Hassan district Monday afternoon, but on the way he had asked his driver to go towards Mangaluru, according to the police.

On reaching the bridge across the Netravati river, he got down from the car and told his driver that 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 told PTI.

"The help of local fishermen is being taken in the search. We are checking who he spoke to over phone," Mangaluru Police Commissioner Sandeep Patil said.

"Air Cushion Vehicle (H-198) is undertaking search in Nethrvathi River and providing support to CG diving teams. Three diving teams, along with the district disaster relief team, has been deputed to carry out search for the missing person," the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Congress MLA U T Khader, who reached the spot, told reporters the police were looking into "all angles".

In Bengaluru, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and several leaders visited Krishna's Bengaluru residence after reports of Siddhartha's missing.

Siddhartha, aged around 60, alleged in the letter purportedly written by him that 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 revised returns have been filed by us".

Shares of Coffee Day Enterprises tanked 20 per cent and hit the lower circuit limit as well as 52-week low of Rs 154.05 apiece on BSE after news surfaced that its founder has gone missing.

In Delhi, a group of Karnataka BJP MPs led by Shobha Karandlaje on Tuesday met Home Minister Amit Shah and sought central help to trace the businessman.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel