BR Shetty resigns as director and co-chairman of Finablr
UAE-based FinTech company Finablr said on Monday that its founder BR Shetty has resigned as a director and co-chairman with immediate effect.
The development comes after the company last month appointed law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom as its lead counsel “to investigate historic potential malfeasance within the Finablr Group and any misappropriation of assets”.
Finablr operates a group of foreign exchange and digital payment companies including brands such as UAE Exchange, Xpress Money, Unimoni, Remit2India and Bayan Pay.
It also previously owned the Travelex foreign exchange business, which was taken over by its lenders last month.
Finablr floated on the London Stock Exchange in May 2019 in a deal that valued the business at £1.23 billion (Dh5.95bn), but its shares have been suspended since March when its market cap had shrunk to £77.2 million.
The company, which is majority-owned by Mr Shetty, reported in May that its debt was $1bn (Dh3.67bn) higher than the $334.1m previously reported in its accounts.
In a separate statement, Finablr also said it received a notification from tax authorities in the UK that it is proposing to suspend the business registration of two local entities, UAE Exchange UK and Xpress Money Services.
“Suspension of business registration would result in cessation of business by the relevant entities unless and until the suspension is lifted. The company intends to work with HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) to attempt to restore the registrations,” Finablr said. A spokesman for Mr Shetty declined to comment on his resignation.
Mr Shetty owns a 62.7 per cent stake in Finablr, according to market data, but is currently unable to sell these shares as a worldwide order freezing his assets was recently granted by DIFC Courts to a lender in Dubai that claimed he had defaulted on a loan of more than $8m.
The order was granted to Credit Europe Bank (Dubai) ahead of a claim filed at the DIFC Courts against Mr Shetty, New Medical Centre Trading and NMC Healthcare.
The assets that were frozen include properties in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as shares in NMC Health, Finablr, BRS Investment Holdings and other companies.
Mr Shetty is fighting the claim, arguing in a response that he did not personally guarantee loans made by the lender to NMC Trading or NMC Healthcare and that the signatures used on cheques guaranteeing the loans were forgeries.
Mr Shetty is also the founder of NMC Healthcare, the biggest privately-owned healthcare provider in the UAE, which was placed into administration in April.
Problems with Mr Shetty’s empire first emerged in December when activist investor Muddy Waters issued a report saying NMC Health had inflated its cash balances, overpaid for its assets and understated its debt.
This sparked an independent investigation which found that debts at NMC Health were materially higher, at $6.6bn, than the $2.1bn previously stated in its accounts.
Mr Shetty issued a statement in April arguing that he has been a victim of fraud committed by “a small group of current and former executives” at companies owned by him. He said bank accounts were created in his name and transactions were made without his knowledge, and that loans, cheques and bank transfers were also fraudulently guaranteed in his name using his forged signature.
“To see everything that my family and I have strived to build over the past 45 years eroded over the course of a few short months, and mainly due to the misconduct and wrongdoing of people I put so much trust in, saddens me beyond words,” Mr Shetty said.