Ness Wadia's Japanese drug bust jolts stocks

Updated: May 01, 2019, 07:02 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

As company shares plunge following his hush-hush jail sentence in Japan, Ness Wadia back in boardroom to stem the rot

Ness Wadia
Ness Wadia

While the media had exploded on Tuesday with news flashes of business tycoon Ness Wadia's suspended two-year jail sentence by a court in Japan, the man himself was busy at work in his Worli office in the afternoon. The report had first appeared in an international English language daily. Sources within the company informed mid-day that Ness had resumed duty last weekend itself. They also said that his father Nusli and brother Jeh had hurriedly flown to Japan in March following his detention.

They had rushed to Japan soon after learning about Ness's detention and subsequent arrest in the first week of March this year. While Jeh returned by the end of the month, Nusli returned last week with Ness. Insiders within the company said they had suspicions about the timing of the article in the English language daily.

"It looks like the timing of the article is an attempt to adversely impact the upcoming board meeting to be held on May 2, 2019, to approve the quarter and financial year-ended March 31, 2019 results, where dividend payments, if any, will also be decided. This seems to have been done by someone deliberately," said a source who did not wished to be identified.

Ness Wadia was locked in a meeting with his company officials until very late last night
Ness Wadia was locked in a meeting with his company officials until very late last night

The source further added, "Senior company officials were busy with the company auditors till late Tuesday evening. The company spokesperson had to come out with a small note on behalf of the company [see box] stating that the sentence was a suspended one."

The impact of the news flash was that on Tuesday, the stock price of the company Bombay Dyeing which opened at Rs 125, was impacted by 9.78 percentage points (BSE) and closed at Rs 112.60 for the day.

Interestingly, till late evening, BSE did not receive any reply from Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing Company seeking clarification on media reports on Ness's two-year jail term in Japan over drug possession.

Media reports have claimed that Ness was detained by customs at New Chitose airport and found in possession of 25g of what appeared to be cannabis resin in the pocket of his trousers.

Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Japan till Tuesday maintained its silence on the issue and said they had no intimation about the detention. Speaking to mid-day, central bureaucrats, who did not wish to be identified said, "The privacy laws internationally are very strict, so even if such an incident had happened, the agencies there will not inform the Indian Embassy without the consent of the individual concerned."

When asked if the privacy law gives the Japan law enforcing agency the power not to keep the Indian Embassy or High commission in Japan in the loop about the detention of an Indian citizen without the person's family's consent, how can such a detention be recorded, the officer said, "It is completely up to them. If an individual feels he can conduct a legal defence without the involvement of the embassy, they may go ahead."

Upon asking whether the law of the land did not make it mandatory that the embassy be informed if an Indian origin person is detained in a foreign land, the officer said, "This depends from country to country. Under international law, the embassy of a foreign national has to be informed but if the foreign national himself does not want the embassy to be informed, it can be waived."

mid-day has learnt from highly placed officials in Delhi that the ministry of external affairs spokesperson might come out with some statement on the issue on Thursday. A message sent to Ness Wadia did not yield any response.

What the company has said: Ness Wadia is in India

The judgment is clear. It is a suspended sentence. Hence, it will not impact Ness Wadia in the discharge of any of his responsibilities and he will continue to play the role that he has done hitherto, both within the group and outside.
The Wadia Group

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