A court in Dubai has sentenced founder chairman of Atlas Group, and movie producer MM ‘Atlas’ Ramachandran to three years imprisonment in a case of financial fraud. Judge Ahmed Shiha pronounced the sentence, reported Gulf News.
MM Ramachandran was arrested and was being held in a detention centre in Bur Dubai since August 23. His lawyers told the media that they would appeal against the sentence.
Trouble started brewing for the group after around 15 banks operating in Dubai approached the Dubai police complaining that the group had defaulted on loan payments.
The group had taken loans upto Dh 550 million (approximately Rs 1000 crores). The jail sentence has come in a case in which two cheques (for Dh 4 million and Dh 30 million) were not honoured. In an earlier hearing, Atlas Ramachandran had admitted that he had issued the cheques and had asked for time to settle the amount. But with the group unable to make a settlement, the court sentenced Ramachandran to jail.
The Dubai police had received five complaints against MM Ramachandran including two complaints that were lodged at Rafaa police station, two at Naif and one at Bur Dubai.
In February this year, the group had faced problems in India too, with the Income Tax Department raiding 23 premises owned by them. Ramachandran had then denied reports of tax evasion of at least Rs 30 crores by the group.
The Atlas group had invested Dh 20-Dh 30 million in gold purchases recently. But with gold inventories across the chain coming down appreciably, bankers questioned whether the finances and assets were being willfully diverted.
About the Atlas group
The very first show room of the Atlas group was opened in Kuwait city in 1981; the group now has almost 50 showrooms across the United Arab Emirates including Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and in Saudi Arabia, Qatar.
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