An Indian woman in Dubai has made a desperate plea seeking the release of her jailed husband MM Ramachandran, gold tycoon and founder of Atlas Jewellery.
Indira Ramachandran, wife of the 75-year-old gold tycoon from Kerala, encountered trouble when her husband was arrested in Dubai on August 23, 2015, in cases related to bounced cheques and has been languishing in jail since then.
Speaking about the deteriorating health of her husband, Indira told a Dubai-based newspaper, “He has been in jail for 21 months now, and his health is fast deteriorating. Last week he was taken to hospital on a wheelchair. I too have health issues. I feel lonely and helpless.”
She added, “I am living in constant fear of getting jailed as some banks have initiated civil proceedings against me, too. I don't even have a steady income to pay my rent. But I have to keep fighting to make sure my husband will soon walk out a free man.”
The trouble for the Ramachandran’s family started in 2015 with the arrest of the gold tycoon for not honouring security cheques worth AED34 million. More banks deposited security cheques, and aggressively pressed charges against Ramachandran for defaulting on payments. The business tycoon - who had previously lost everything in the 1990 Kuwait War and rebuilt his business empire in Dubai - was soon embroiled in a legal deadlock.
Narrating her story, Indira said, “Banks were threatening me with arrest. Some people were asking for millions. I was physically and mentally broken and did not know what to do or whom to call.”
As Ramachandran owed millions to banks, and with her husband in jail, she was responsible for clearing the financial mess. The existing assets could not be liquidated.
But she did not have much to count on. Atlas Group, which reportedly had an annual turnover of AED3.5 billion, had collapsed like a house of cards. Shutters were down on all his 19 gold showrooms in the UAE. Businesses at their showrooms in other Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Doha and Muscat got adversely affected due to the cash crunch.
Meanwhile, Ramachandran's daughter and son-in-law were also arrested over financial issues not related to Atlas Jewellery. "That was a bigger tragedy. And I had to deal with it all on my own," she said.
However, Indira is still optimistic that her husband will soon come out despite all the setbacks. She said they were able to sell two hospitals in Muscat and used the AED35 million to make temporary settlements with the banks.
She informed that 19 of the 22 lending banks have so far signed a standstill agreement by which all legal proceedings have been put on hold against Ramachandran and a new repayment deal negotiated.
She added, “Only three banks are refusing to budge. I am knocking on all doors to get them agree to sign the standstill agreement, so that Ramachandran can be released with immediate effect.”
“He is an honest man and had enjoyed immense goodwill in the market for the last three decades. But being held in prison, he is unable to talk to the prospective buyers to liquidate the assets and pay back debts. It is my earnest wish he be given a humanitarian consideration,” said Indira to the Dubai based newspaper.