Shaji Purushothaman, the Empee Group scion, who has been accused of driving his Mercedez Benz car over a pavement in Chennai killing a 13-year-old boy and injuring two, was caught at the Kochi international airport on Thursday. He was brought to Chennai later in the day.
The car was allegedly driven by Shaji in a drunken state on May 23.
Shaji (38) was on the run ever since. He was detained at the airport in Nedumbasseri when he returned from his Thai hideout, a day after a Chennai court declared him a proclaimed offender.
Shaji completed his schooling till Class VI at the city’s Don Bosco Matriculation School. He pursued further education in New York and graduated from Oxford. He got married to Anju in 1998 and the couple has a daughter, Aruna. His sister Nisha is married to Union Minister Vayalar Ravi’s son Ravi Krishna.
Shaji’s father M P Purushothaman’s biography will make a perfect rags-to-riches story. A native of Kannur in Kerala, Purushothaman reached the then Madras, 40 year ago, with the little money that he borrowed from friends and family to begin a small hotel.
Over time, this hotel grew into a vast business conglomerate that has interests in sugar, chemicals, liquor, power, hospitality, construction, exports, agriculture, travel, knowledge processing and packaging.
Shaji had been actively associated with the Empee Group for the past 12 years.
He became the Executive Director of Empee Distilleries in July 2007.
He stepped down as Managing Director after his term expired on March 9, 2013. Shaji is currently one of the board of directors of the business conglomerate. Shaji had expanded his business base in the US, UK, Australia and Malaysia.
His latest venture ‘GoCrazee’, an online bazaar aimed at door delivery of provisions, did not takeoff as expected. The venture was reportedly launched through Empee Communications Ltd. After he stepped down as MD of the distillery arm of the Empee Group, Shaji reportedly frequented Thailand, where he stayed with his wife and daughter.
Shaji’s family in India hasn’t heard from him in three years, his father said. Purushothaman told police that he was not in talking terms with his son and even learnt about Shaji’s visit to India only through some of his employees.
A couple of days after the accident, Shaji flew out to Thailand from Bangalore via Colombo on a ticket booked by the Empee Group’s travel desk. He caught a flight back to Kochi from Thailand through Colombo only to be arrested.
Shaji and Kumar, who was also in the car at the time of the accident, bonded over horse-trading. Kumar helped the Empee scion, who is also a horse-racing enthusiast, buy horses in different parts of the country. Their friendship grew over time and Kumar became one of Shaji’s closest aides.