Hospital builder NMC finds potential fraud in its books

Advisers to under-fire hospital builder NMC Health have found what could be fraud in its finances, the company revealed on Thursday.

NMC said that it has informed regulators in both Britain and the United Arab Emirates of what external consultants hired to review its accounts have found.

“The review advisers have informed the committee that they have discovered evidence leading to suspected fraudulent behaviour in relation to some elements of NMC’s previous financial activities,” NMC said.

It added: “NMC is fully committed to investigating these activities and has notified the relevant authorities in the UK and UAE to determine what action they also consider to be appropriate.”

The company, which is based in the Middle East but listed on London’s FTSE 100, revealed earlier this week that it had discovered a massive pile of debt that the board had never been told about.

The company was around 2.7 billion dollars (£2.1 billion) further in the red than it thought, bringing total debt to around five billion dollars (£3.9 billion)

But the board is not even sure if that is the final number. “The work on verifying this figure is ongoing,” the business said.

It also hinted at bad behaviour, saying that the board believes some of the proceeds may have been “utilised for non-group purposes”.

NMC was thrown into turmoil late last year after short seller Muddy Waters released a damning report into the business.

Since then serious questions have been raised about how much of the company’s shares are owned by founder BR Shetty, and how much belongs to two businessmen known as the Bin Buttis.

Another BR Shetty-founded company, Finablr, on Thursday said that the coronavirus outbreak and the NMC scandal had hurt its business.

Restrictions on travel have reduced demand for foreign exchange, a major part of Travelex-owner Finablr’s business.

The outbreak has also “restricted the movement of physical currencies that the company needs to operate its businesses”, Finablr said.

Finablr shares fell as much as 66% to 7.61p on Thursday. Trading in NMC’s shares is suspended, so remained unchanged.

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