chairman R Seshasayee
broke his silence on Friday over accusations of governance lapses, appealing to co-founder N R Narayana Murthy
to stop making slanderous accusations.
and two former board members — Jeffrey Lehman and John Etchemendy — resigned last week after co-founder Nandan Nilekani came back as chairman.
His return was forced after investors discarded the Infosys
stock, following the public spat between Murthy and the board soon after former chief executive officer (CEO) Vishal Sikka resigned.
On Tuesday, Murthy spoke to analysts and he quoted an anonymous whistleblower accusing Seshasayee
as a liar. He also said he raised his voice against failing governance at Infosys
and hoped that Nilekani would set right the lapses.
“Since my resignation from the board of Infosys, I have kept away from making any public statements, despite provocations, since I sincerely want the company to move forward, and not be bogged down with the issues of the past,” Seshasayee
said. “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 a joint statement with Lehman and Etchemendy.
said that Murthy had invited him to be chairman of Infosys
and as recently as February this year, the co-founder had called him “a man of high integrity”.
“I am, therefore, at a loss to understand the motivations for this persistent vendetta against me,” he said. “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.”
“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. It is regrettable that Mr Murthy’s campaign on the alleged governance lapses has continually slipped into personal attacks and slander on individual board members,” Seshasayee
said. Lehman and Etchemendy, the independent directors who left Infosys
with Seshasayee, defended the former chairman’s actions during the time he headed the Infosys
“Sesh is a man of impeccable integrity. Faced with unfair, false, and outrageous attacks, he has consistently responded with scrupulous honesty and forthrightness. He has been an inspiration to his fellow board members and has been the real moral compass of Infosys
for the past three years,” Lehman said, adding, “I am fully conversant with the details of the Rajiv Bansal issue and I can categorically state that at no point did Sesh say anything in public or, to the best of my knowledge, in private that was untrue or did not reflect the collective view of the board.”
Rajiv Bansal is the former chief financial officer of Infosys, who got a severance package that is alleged to have been given to buy his silence in the $200-million acquisition of Panaya, the Israeli technology firm. Since then, Murthy has accused Infosys
of failing in corporate governance, which led to former CEO Vishal Sikka’s exit and a public fallout with Murthy that led to investors lose confidence in Infosys.
“During his tenure, Mr Seshasayee
was scrupulously and tirelessly devoted to ensuring that the board complies with all applicable principles of law and governance. An anonymous, so-called “whistleblower” made outrageous charges against the management; the board engaged several sets of outside counsel and investigators of impeccable reputation, and those investigators determined that every charge was false and without any foundation,” said Lehman, a former director, who was on the Infosys
board for 11 years, including when Murthy and Nilekani were on the Chair.
“For the good of Infosys, I wish Mr Murthy would stop quoting those lies as if they were reputable. For the good of Infosys, I wish Mr Murthy would stop defaming Mr Seshasayee
and the other members of a board who have served with dedication and integrity, who have turned the other cheek when slandered, and who have acted only in the best interests of the company,” Lehman wrote.