Local spice and nut trader folds, owner declared bankrupt

Local spice and nut trader folds, owner declared bankrupt

A PROMINENT business leader within the local Indian community and his family have been declared bankrupt following the liquidation of their spice and nut trading business.

Kirpa Ram Sharma, 60, had provided personal guarantees to a number of banks for loans extended to his company, Pars Ram Brothers, which was placed under provisional liquidation in Nov 24 last year. Mr Sharma was a director and major shareholder of the firm.

The Business Times understands that Mr Sharma, having liabilities of more than US$130 million, had filed for his own bankruptcy and was issued the order on Jan 28.

His wife Anju Sharma and son Kapil Dev Sharma were also declared bankrupt after applications were filed against them by an Indian bank, as they had acted as joint guarantors for the bank loans.

The company is said to owe money to between 10 and 17 banks.

Accounting and advisory firm Moore Stephens' partners Mick Aw and Neo Keng Jin have been made the trustees for their estate, according to notices placed in BT on March 11. The firm is now in the process of contacting various parties who may be involved, BT understands.

The fall of Pars Ram Brothers - once a promising small and medium enterprise - has sent shockwaves through the Indian business community. Mr Sharma was formerly a vice-chairman of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI). BT understands that he left SICCI a few months ago.

Pars Ram Brothers has a long history, having been established in 1937 by Mr Sharma's father. The firm traded spices, such as cloves, cumin seeds and ginger, as well as cashew nuts, pulses, rice and other agricultural products, and had a turnover of about US$100 million in 2011, according to previous media reports.

The company had also ventured into markets including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Latin America, the Middle East, North and South Africa, Romania, Russia, Reunion Islands, Spain and Turkey, its website showed.

The firm is said to have had problems collecting payment from customers in the Middle East. There is also speculation that the firm was involved in speculative foreign exchange trades and was hit by market fluctuations.

Mr Sharma declined to comment when contacted by BT.

sandrea@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 15, 2016.
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