A jewellery advertisement with a nasal sound telling the viewer “Atlas jewellery- Jana kodikalude viswastha sthapanam.” (Atlas Jewellery- The establishment that crores trust). But it now seems that the man in the advertisement and jewellery chain Atlas Group is in a major spot of trouble.
According to news reports MM Ramachandran the founder of Atlas group is absconding even as 15 banks operating in Dubai have approached the Dubai police complaining that the group has defaulted on loan payments running up to Dh550 million (approximately Rs 1000 crores).
Gulf news reported without naming the group that 'nearly Dh 50 million was borrowed by the chain last month and the group invested Dh20-Dh30 million in gold purchases recently. However, sources said inventory levels across the chain have come down appreciably, compelling bankers to question where the recent Dh30 million used, fearing that the finances and assets were being willfully diverted.'
Even as there is concern that the group was moving away inventories from its showrooms, a news report by the Deccan Chronicle said that the Atlas group was trying to settling its dues by offloading its inventory.
Multiple reports state that Ramachandran is absconding and the police have not been able to get hold of him for questioning.
In February this year the group had faced problems in India too, the Income Tax Department had raided 23 premises owned by them. Ramachandran had then denied reports of tax evasion of at least Rs 30 crores by the group.
The Gulf News also reported that some bankers have registered cases against Ramachandran after security cheques issued by the Atlas group had been returned by banks citing insufficient funds.
About the Atlas group
The very first show room of the Atlas group was opened in Kuwait city in 1981 and 1986 the number of showrooms had grown to 6 in Kuwait.
In 1987, popular actor Shobana was featured in Atlas's first video advertisement, in 1988, Ramachandran ventured into film production and distribution.
When Iraq occupied Kuwait in 1990, the group incurred losses and moved its headquarters to United Arab Emirates (UAE).
By 1996 Ramachandran had become a substantial player in the gold and jewelry markets in UAE and was elected as the Chairman of the Dubai Shopping Festival's Gold Promotion Committee.
M.M. Ramachandran with H.H. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai
The group now has outlets in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Qatar and Ras Al Khaimah.