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Narayana Murthy on vendetta campaign, says Seshasayee

Former Infy chairman says charges against him are 'patently offensive'

Ayan Pramanik 

Infosys, seshasayee
R Seshasayee. Photo: Suryakant Niwate

Former chairman R broke his silence on Friday over accusations of governance lapses, appealing to co-founder N R 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 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 as a liar. He also said he raised his voice against failing governance at 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,” 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,” said in a joint statement with Lehman and Etchemendy.

said that Murthy had invited him to be chairman of 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,” said. Lehman and Etchemendy, the independent directors who left with Seshasayee, defended the former chairman’s actions during the time he headed the board.

“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 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 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

“During his tenure, Mr 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 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 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.

THE STORY SO FAR
  • In February, N R raises governance lapses over severance pay to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal 
  • board denies any governance lapses
  • Anonymous whistleblower sends letter to Sebi, says wrongdoing in Panaya acquisition 
  • denies, appoints global law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to investigate claim 
  • In June, company releases a summary of investigation  
  • In August, Murthy asks to make the full report public 
  • Vishal Sikka resigns citing “unrelenting, baseless/malicious and increasingly personal attacks” as the primary reason
  • blames Murthy for Sikka’s exit; stocks crash 
  • Nandan Nilekani takes over as chairman; Seshasayee, two board members resign 



First Published: Sat, September 02 2017. 01:50 IST
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