05:49 GMT +320 October 2019
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    V.G. Siddhartha, chairman of Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, speaks during a news conference in Mumbai, India, October 7, 2015

    Body of Missing Billionaire Indian Coffee Shop 'King' Found in Karnataka

    © REUTERS / Shailesh Andrade
    Asia & Pacific
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    Police in India’s southern state of Karnataka have tracked down the body of a billionaire businessman who had been missing since Monday (29 July). V.G. Siddhartha, known as the “Coffee King”, who was the son-in-law of India's former External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, had “committed suicide”, apparently due to financial strains.

    Police Commissioner of Mangaluru (Mangalore) Sandeep Patil has confirmed that the body was found early Wednesday morning. He said the family has been informed about it and further investigations will continue.

    ​The body was found on the banks of the Netravati River in Mangaluru district, where the businessman was last seen.

    Siddhartha was the founder of a popular coffee shop chain, Café Coffee Day, and owner of one of the biggest coffee gardens in Asia.

    In a letter purported to have been written by Siddhartha to the board of directors of the company, he indicated that he was under tremendous financial strain and unable to take the pressure any longer.  

    “I am sorry to let down all the people who put their trust in me. 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 had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend. Tremendous pressure from other lenders led to me succumbing to the situation.”

    The coffee baron also indicated in the letter that he'd been harassed by a top tax official. The Income Tax Department in a press note has, however, denied the allegation. The Tax Department has also raised doubts about the authenticity of the letter and said its officials have acted in accordance with the provisions of the relevant act.

    “The provisional attachment (of shares) was made to protect the interests of revenue out of the income admitted by the assessed, based on credible evidence gathered in search action. The Income Tax department has acted as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act,” the tax authority stated.

    Café Coffee Day has the largest chain of coffee shops in India and has a presence in Australia, the Czech Republic and Malaysia, according to the website of the company, and serves 1.8 billion cups of coffee annually.  A 2015 Forbes list pegged Siddharth’s net worth at $1.2 billion.

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    Tags:
    suicide, coffee shop, businessman, Coffee, Karnataka, India
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