Vasan Eye Care Founder AM Arun passes away in Chennai

Dr AM Arun, founder of Vasan Eye Care, died of a “cardiac arrest” on Monday morning, doctors said. He was 51. The cause of his death is still unclear. According to reports, Dr. Arun was declared dead on arrival by doctors at Kauvery Hospital in the morning. The body was then sent to Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital at the Omandurar Government Estate for an autopsy. Dr Arun built Vasan Eye Care ground up at a ferocious pace to make it the largest eye care network in India. The government of Singapore picked up a stake in the eye care chain to ride the healthcare wave in India. The fall of eye care chain was also dramatic as he was charged with money laundering.

In 1991, A.M. Arun, who took over his family’s pharmacy business ‘Vasan Medical Hall’ in Trichy and built it into one of India’s largest network of eye care hospitals under Vasan Healthcare Group. In 2002, he forayed into the eye care business by setting up the first eye care hospital in Trichy. Soon after, Vasan expanded its presence with over 100 hospitals across the southern States. Today the network includes 170 eye care hospitals in India and 27 dental Hospitals across 4 states in South India. Company also operates two multi-speciality hospitals in Trichy. Vasan Eye Care Hospitals are day-care centres for treating eye ailments. However, the rapid rise of the group came to an abrupt halt as it got enmeshed in charges of money laundering and foreign exchange violations. It came under the radar of investigation agencies on allegations being aired of Arun’s closeness to Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union minister of finance P Chidambaram, and Of Karti’s having used Vasan Healthcare to launder black money.

Income Tax officials had also searched Arun’s residence in Chennai and Vasan Healthcare’s offices in Mylapore in 2015. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also conducted investigations into the financial dealings of the group. The allegations were followed by raids. Amid tax evasion controversies and deteriorating finances, the NCLT, Chennai, in 2017, ordered commencement of insolvency proceedings against the eye care network, based on a petition filed by one of its suppliers — Alcon Laboratories. However, the Madras High Court stayed the proceedings. In October 2019, a Division Bench vacated the stay, and the case was back at the NCLT.