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NRN, Pai were marked in whistleblower mail

Founder NR Narayana Murthy and former senior executive TV Mohandas Pai were also marked in the mail that was sent to the board of Infosys last month by a whistleblower who alleged financial malfeasance by top executives.

Oct 31, 2019, 08.42 AM IST
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MUMBAI: The whistleblowers who wrote to the board of Infosys last month, alleging financial malfeasance by top executives in the company, also marked the letter to founder NR Narayana Murthy and former senior executive TV Mohandas Pai, according to a person directly aware of the matter.

This move by the group terming itself “ethical employees” has raised concerns, the person said, over whether it was deliberately seeking outside support instead of going through the company redressal system.

In response to a query from ET last week, Murthy had said that he was out of the country and to refer all queries (on the whistleblower letter) to cofounder and non-executive chairman Nandan Nilekani.

Pai declined to comment on Infosys-related matters. Infosys declined comment on this matter.

On Tuesday, brokerage ICICI Securities raised its rating on Infosys to ‘buy’ from ‘hold’ and said there was ‘no perceivable inconsistency’ in key data shared by Infosys as alleged by the whistleblower. “What has exacerbated investor’s response to the whistleblower allegations was the absence of proactive disclosures by the company,” said ICICI Securities in its report.

Infosys stock closed 1.51% up at Rs 660.45 on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

In 2017, founder Murthy had red flagged corporate governance issues at the Bengaluru-headquartered IT services major that culminated in the resignation of then CEO Vishal Sikka. Subsequently cofounder Nilekani returned to helm the board and bring stability to the battered IT services company.

Company executives who spoke to ET pointed to a clash of cultures within the nearly four-decade-old company. “There are a set of old timers in the system who have been unable to adjust to the changing management style at Infosys.

What is the point in marking mails addressed to the board to Murthy and Pai if it was not to garner support,” said an executive close to the development.

“If there was a cause for concern, it ought to have been first taken to the board and only if it wasn’t taken up, then the whistleblowers ought to have sent it to SEC or Sebi,” the person said.

Corporate governance experts are of the view that many top companies are going through the challenging test of governance standards.

“There are no holy cows and no company should be placed on a pedestal when it comes to ensuring the right governance standards,” said one industry expert.

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