Police find body of India’s billionaire coffee king
NEW DELHI: The body of a billionaire Indian coffee magnate who went missing amid financial troubles was found by a river in southern India, police said yesterday.
Mr V.G. Siddhartha, founder of the Cafe Coffee Day chain, was last seen on Monday next to the Nethravathi river near Mangaluru and reported missing soon after by his chauffeur.
Authorities launched a major search operation, and a fisherman found the body on the bank of the river.
"Siddhartha's body was found early this morning," Mr Sasikanth Senthil, deputy commissioner of South Karnataka police, told AFP.
"We have sent his body for post-mortem analysis now and are awaiting results."
Mr Sandeep Patil, Mangaluru police commissioner, said an investigation was underway to determine whether Mr Siddhartha took his own life.
Mr Siddhartha - whose family have been in the coffee business for 130 years - opened his first Cafe Coffee Day store in 1996 and went on to become one of the world's biggest coffee traders.
The chain has more than 1,700 outlets, mainly in India, and employs more than 30,000 people.
Police said Mr Siddhartha left Bangalore late on Monday, telling his family he was going to a hill resort but instead asked his driver to take him to Mangaluru. He ordered the driver to stop the car and walked along a bridge while talking on his phone before disappearing.
Mr Siddhartha married a daughter of Mr S.M. Krishna, a former foreign minister and chief minister, making him one of the country's best-connected tycoons.
But his empire came under pressure after tax authorities launched raids on company offices in 2017. Reports said Mr Siddhartha was in talks with Coca-Cola about selling a major stake.
In a letter to the Cafe Coffee Day board, the 57-year-old chairman had admitted mistakes in handling his financial affairs.
"My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, I have failed as an entrepreneur," he said in the letter, which was dated July 27. - AFP