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Infosys former chairman, directors refute Murthy's allegations as 'patently false'

R Seshasayee says private conversations have been twisted out of context by the company's founder

mg_99185_bgrtsygp3copy_280x210.jpgInfosys’s former chairman R Seshasayee
Image: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Infosys’s former chairman R Seshasayee, and two former independent directors, released a letter on Friday, refuting as “patently false and slanderous,” allegations in a recent investor call by the Bengaluru company’s founder NR Narayana Murthy.

Murthy told investors on August 29,2017, that the former board members — including another independent director Roopa Kudva — gave him inconsistent reasons for a Rs. 17.38 crore payout for former CFO Rajiv Bansal, who left the company in December 2015.

“Mr. Murthy's statement to the investors misleadingly attributes words to me that are taken completely out of context, making it appear that I was not stating the truth. I wish to categorically state that I have always been candid and truthful in all my statements concerning Infosys,” Seshasayee said in the letter, which was issued jointly with John Etchemendy, and Jeffrey Lehman, the other directors who resigned.

“To quote an anonymous whistleblower letter that alleged many things, which have subsequently been proved baseless and false through multiple investigations by highly respected counsel, in order to give an impression to the audience that I lied to the shareholders, is patently offensive,” Seshasayee added.

At the investor call, Murthy repeated the complaints to the Securities and Exchange Board of India by an anonymous whistleblower, who in February had questioned the payout, and the value of the deal in which Infosys purchased an IT automation company Panaya Inc.

In a year-long fight with the then board led by R Seshasayee, Murthy had alleged in media interviews that the payout to Bansal was “hush money” related to the Panaya deal. Infosys released a statement in June, including summary findings by two international law firms, who had found no wrongdoing.

The fight precipitated CEO Vishal Sikka’s resignation on August 18. On August 24, the board under Seshasayee invited co-founder Nandan Nilekani to become the company’s non-executive chairman. Seshasayee, Etchemendy and Lehman resigned the same day, as did Sikka, who had initially accepted an interim executive chairman’s position to help with the transition before Nilekani came on board.

“I would also like to point out that Mr. Murthy invited me to join the Board and entrusted to me the Chair of the Audit Committee, while he was still the Chairman,” Seshasayee said in his statement on Friday. “As late as February 2017, much after the alleged lapses took place, Mr. Murthy also issued a press statement that I was a man of high integrity. I am therefore at a loss to understand the motivations for this persistent vendetta against me,” he said.

In his investor call, Murthy had said Kudva had informed him that in July 2016 that he would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to get details of the payout decision to Bansal.

“The words that Mr. Murthy attributes to Jeff Lehman and Roopa Kudva, from their private conversation with him are also egregiously taken out of context,” the three former directors said in their letter on Friday.

Nilekani told investors and reporters on August 25 that he would get a “full briefing” on investigations commissioned by Infosys to look into the whistleblower’s allegations, and then take appropriate action. He didn’t immediately say if he would make public the full findings of the law firms, as demanded by Murthy in press interviews.

ALSO READ:- Nandan Nilekani returns to Infosys as non-executive chairman
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- Why institutional investors batted for Nandan Nilekani

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