A letter recovered from the Coffee Day founder’s computer noted that he was under tremendous pressure from a private equity partner and lenders, and also alleged harassment from a former DG of Income Tax.

He wasnt alone in this India Inc on VG Siddharthas extreme financial stress
Atom Coffee Day Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 16:30

The death of Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha has come as a jolt to the business community. Hours after he went missing, a letter written by him before he went missing had also surfaced on Tuesday. Dated July 27, the letter, addressed to the Coffee Day Board of Directors and employees, stated that he “failed as an entrepreneur”. The letter noted that he was under tremendous pressure from a private equity partner and from lenders.

Several corporate leaders and entrepreneurs took to Twitter to express their grief and shock over the apparent suicide of the founder of Café Coffee Day.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, MD of Biocon, tweeted that it was a shocking and sad end to a quiet and unassuming pioneer who started the cafes business ahead of Starbucks in India. Subsequently speaking to media channels, she added that he was not alone in the extreme financial stress he indicated in the letter he wrote.

“I’m sure he was not alone in this. I’m sure many companies are over-leveraged and facing investigation from ED, Sebi, etc and many companies are facing hostility from PE players,” she said while speaking to CNN News18.

Siddhartha’s letter also alleged harassment from a former DG of Income Tax. “There was a lot of harassment from the previous DG income tax in the form of attaching our shares on two separate occasions to block our Mindtree deal and then taking position of our Coffee Day shares... This was very unfair and has led to a serious liquidity crunch,” he wrote.

Speaking to TNM, Mohandas Pai said that it was sad and devastating to hear the news since he had known Siddhartha for 30 years and had great respect for him. Pai says that Siddhartha’s letter should lead to a lot of introspection on how we treat our citizens, adding that they are treated very badly by tax authorities.

“It is true that there is a lot of harassment. Look at how people are treated in tax raids – they are locked up, harassed, not allowed to eat, forced to sign letters, etc. Businesses in this country are scared of enforcement authorities because they treat them shabbily. It’s time an independent inquiry is set up into how things are to be done,” he said, adding that with the issue of debts, it’s a sign of the failure of the justice system and that’s why debtors and creditors have huge problems.

In a clarification regarding Siddhartha’s letter, the I-T department said in a statement that VG Siddhartha allegedly admitted to possessing unaccounted income of Rs 362.11 crore and Rs 118.02 crore via M/s Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd to sleuths. The department states that he had also signed a sworn statement in this regard.

With regard to the Mindtree shares that Siddhartha talked about in his letter, the I-T department said that it came to know about Siddhartha’s plans to sell the equity shares of Mindtree through reports on January 21, 2019 after which an immediate verification of the facts was carried out. 

Also read: Malnad remembers VG Siddhartha: Coffee king who created jobs, inspired entrepreneurs

Several other entrepreneurs too took to Twitter to express their grief and share instances of their meeting Siddhartha.

Sachin Bansal, co-founder of Flipkart, said, “I had known V G Siddhartha personally and was always amazed at his energy and positivity. Distressed by his disappearance. He has been an inspiring entrepreneur and investor.”

“So heart breaking. Had met him a few times – an absolute gentleman … I will always see his legacy as a very successful entrepreneur who brought coffee in our lives. My prayers,” Kunal Bahl, co-founder of Snapdeal said.

Amit Ranjan, co-founder of SlideShare, called it a black letter day for startups and entrepreneurship in India. “He certainly wasnt a failed entrepreneur! Black letter day for startups and entrepreneurship in India! Has to be said – new age startups are lucky to be (largely) funded by equity, debt driven businesses are far more harsh and stressful,” he tweeted.

Sampad Swain, founder of Instamojo, said, “We need to take a clear stance in criminalization of a biz failure. A venture can fail, but an entrepreneur shouldn’t - time & again we aren’t learning from the past. Sad.”

If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, consider reaching out to one of the following helplines:

Tamil Nadu:

State health department suicide helpline number - 104

Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050


Telangana government suicide prevention toll free number - 104 

Roshni- 040-66202000, 66202001

SEVA- 09441778290, 040 - 27504682 (between 9 AM and 7 PM)


Sahai : 24-hour helpline numbers: 080- 65000111, 080-65000222


Maithri helpline - 0484-2540530

Chaithram helpline: 0484-2361161

Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.

Andhra Pradesh: 

Life Suicide Prevention Helpline No.78930-78930 

Roshni - 

Helpline 1: 9166202000 

Helpline 2: 9127848584

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