Founder of India’s largest coffee chain disappears after letter to employees: ‘I fought for a long time but today I gave up’
The founder of India’s largest coffee company, V.G. Siddhartha, was confirmed missing Tuesday, several days after penning a letter to employees saying “he failed as an entrepreneur” and hid “financial transactions” from board members amid growing “pressure” from an unnamed equity partner.
Coffee Day Enterprises issued a statement Tuesday morning that Siddhartha, company chairman and managing director, “has not [been] reachable since yesterday evening.”
He was reportedly last seen Monday stepping out of his car near the Netravati river sometime during the evening, according to India Today.
While the circumstances surrounding Siddhartha’s disappearance remains a mystery, the Cafe Coffee Day founder sent a letter to employees sometime before he was reported missing that appeared to allude to mounting financial problems.
“I would like to say I gave it my all. I am very sorry to let down all the people that put their trust in me,” the letter, obtained by the Times of India, read. “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 shores, a transaction I had partially completed six months ago by borrowing a large sum of money from a friend.”
He continued: “Tremendous pressure from other lenders nod to me succumbing to the situation.”
Siddhartha went on to say that he was “solely responsible for all mistakes” and that the company’s auditors and senior management were “totally unaware of all my transactions.”
“The law should hold me and only me accountable, as I have withheld this information from everybody including my family.”
It remains unclear what business handlings Siddhartha was referencing.
He concluded the letter apologizing to his board of directors and “Coffee Day family,” adding that he enclosed a list of assets and a tentative value for each asset which “can help repay everybody.”
“My intention was never to cheat or mislead anybody, I have failed as an entrepreneur. This is my sincere submission, I hope someday you will understand, forgive and pardon me.”
Cafe Coffee Day was founded in 1996 and now has 1,750 locations throughout India, making it the largest coffee producer in the country, according to the Business Standard. It has also opened locations in Europe as well as in Malaysia and Nepal.