This is a story of a financial scandal, of fortunes won and lost and political collusion in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that goes right to the heart of Emirati business and politics.
At the centre of it is a self-made Indian billionaire – Dr BR Shetty.
As founder of New Medical Centre Health (NMC), Shetty built relationships with the UAE’s all-powerful sheikhs that appeared to open doors. Business was booming and, in 2012, NMC was the first Abu Dhabi company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. The Initial Public Offering (IPO) raised $186m and raised NMC’s market value to more than $8bn.
The first rumblings of financial trouble, however, came in December 2019 when an American investment firm published a damning report on NMC’s finances. NMC’s shares plummeted by 48 percent, wiping $1.5bn off the Shetty family fortune.
In April 2020, NMC Health went into administration in the United Kingdom for insolvency. Later that month, the UAE Central Bank ordered the seizure of all of Shetty and his family’s assets and Shetty left the country. He now sees himself as the victim, claiming alleged fraud and misconduct within NMC – and has promised to clear his name and restore his business reputation.