A day after M A M Ramaswamy allegedly bribed the Registrar of Companies, Chettinad Cements’ shareholders have showed a red flag to appoint him to the board. Ramaswamy, who was the chairman of the company, has now been appointed as Chairman – Emeritus.
“...in acknowledgement of his contribution at the helm of the company’s operations till 1999, the managing director announced that M A M Ramaswamy would be appointed as Chairman Emeritus for life,” the company’s statement said.
At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Chettinad Cements held on Wednesday, when the resolution seeking re-appointment of Ramaswamy as the director of the company was proposed, an individual shareholder opposed it while another shareholder proposed an amendment to the ordinary resolution stating that Ramaswamy should not be re-appointed as director. The resolution was put to vote and it was carried out.
Ramaswamy, who is facing allegations of bribing the Registrar of Companies here, did not attend Wednesday’s shareholders meeting. Unconfirmed reports stated that Ramaswamy was admitted to a private hospital on Tuesday after he complained of chest pain.
While Ramaswamy holds 24 per cent stake in the company, his daughter-in-law, Geetha Muthiah holds 18.2 per cent, son M A M R Muthiah holds 15 per cent, Chettinad Logistics holds 10 per cent, Chettinad Software Pvt Ltd and Chettinad Hospitals hold seven per cent each. Most of these companies are controlled by Muthiah, who is the managing director of the entire group, apart from being vice chairman of Chettinad Cements.
Wednesday’s development comes in the backdrop of the arrest of Registrar of Companies M Manuneethi Cholan’s arrest here on Tuesday. He was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for accepting a Rs 10 lakh bribe from Ramaswamy. Cholan applied for bail in court on Wednesday. The CBI has requested his custody for seven days. The court has adjourned the matter for Thursday, issuing notice to the related parties in the bail petition. Later, Cholan was sent to Puzhal jail.
In a statement on Tuesday, the CBI said that reliable information was received that Cholan had demanded Rs 10 lakh as illegal gratification from Ramaswamy, the chairman of the Chettinad Group of Companies. The statement also revealed that there was an attempt by a rival group within the management to take control over the Chettinad Group during the AGM.
Cholan, according to CBI, demanded the illegal gratification for not approving the decision that was going to be taken at the AGM.
Ramaswamy is known to be the richest Chettiar, one of the richest trading communities in the country, on an individual basis and also known as ‘Chettinad Arasar’ (King) and he has also been the Sheriff of Chennai for two terms. His grandfather was the the Rajah of Chettinad. In 2012, Forbes listed him as the 88th richest person in India with a net worth of $650 million.
The Chettinad Group has over 15 companies, including listed Chettinad Cement. The group’s other interests include cement, power, textile, health care, education, logistics, coal terminals, construction, plantations, and others. According to the Chettinad Group of Companies, Muthiah is the managing director of the Group.
The group was promoted by Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar KCSI, grandfather of Ramaswamy.