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Friday, August 18, 2017

Infosys says Narayana Murthy's charges 'completely untenable'
BANGALORE/NEW DELHI: Infosys today lashed out at fresh charges by founder NR Narayana Murthy, saying suggestions that world-renowned law firms will "connive" with the board twice to overlook alleged "misdeeds" of a CEO and give a clean chit were "completely untenable".

The comments came after Murthy said that several shareholders, who had read the whistle-blower report, had told him that an "impartial and objective investigation" does not happen in the manner in which Infosys' probe was conducted.

Infosys Chairman R Seshasayee rubbished the claims saying that probe had been conducted by world renowned firms.

"... to suggest that world renowned law and forensic firms will connive with the board, not once but twice...and overlook something which is a misdeed and submit a clean report, to our mind, is completely untenable," Seshasayee said.

He added that board did all it could to look into whistle blower complaints of corporate governance lapses, particularly those related to acquisition of Panaya.

"It is the job of the board (Infosys) to enquire and make sure that there is indeed no such misdeed. And that is precisely what the board did," he said.

In a day of high drama at Infosys, CEO Vishal Sikka quit and the board squarely blamed Murthy's "continuous assault" for his exit.

The board, which has been locked in a confrontation with some of the founders over the past quarters, also alleged that Murthy's recent letter contained factual inaccuracies and that his "misguided campaign" was damaging the company.

Murthy in a statement had said that he was not seeking "any money, position for children, or power", and that his concern primarily was the deteriorating standard of corporate governance at Infosys.

Murthy also released the contents of his letter to advisors dated August 14, 2017 where he had said that he did not wish to comment on Sikka's work, and that his concerns are around governance at Infosys.

"I believe that the fault lies with the current board ... We just want the board to protect the institution rather than protecting some individuals like the board is doing today," Murthy had said in his mail to advisors.

Murthy also stressed that he did not want Infosys board to "drive the institution to death" through serious governance "deficits".

During the conference today, Seshasayee said that the board had looked into anonymous whistle blower complaints on three occasions and that investigation had not found evidence of wrongdoing on any of the occasion.

Defending the decision to have a board-initiated investigation, Seshasayee argued that giving shareholders the task of taking up anonymous complaints or letting them appoint committee for probe was "the best way to destroy an organisation".

Disbelieving reports of globally renowned and independent investigating agencies would be akin to saying that no one can be trusted, he pointed out.

"Nothing has come out of the investigation," he maintained.

Infosys co-chairman Ravi Venkatesan said that succession planning was priority for board, and that it was important that incoming CEO buys into Infosys' vision and culture and is people-oriented.

To a specific question, Venkatesan said he is not in contention for the CEO's role.

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