Infosys board should be prosecuted, says 'whistleblower'

An Infosys 'whistleblower' has said the Securities and Exchange Board of India should make an example of Infosys, prosecute the board and management and not allow the company to settle without accepting guilt.

The anonymous whistleblower had circulated a letter earlier in the year detailing alleged lapses in the company's acquisition of Israeli automation startup Panaya and had said former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal's severance had been negotiated by then chief executive Vishal Sikka and then general counsel David Kennedy without input from the board.

Earlier this week, Infosys filed a consent application with SEBI to settle issues related to disclosures and the fact that the board had not been informed prior to creating a severance agreement with Bansal.

Infosys said the application process was based on an undertaking that it would neither admit nor deny the finding of fact or conclusion of law.

''While I understand it is a norm for large corporates to do backdoor settlements and protect their turf in case of genuine excesses, in Infosys' case the regulator should deny that luxury and make the management accountable in the larger interest.

''Let me explain,'' the whistleblower said in a letter to the stock exchanges and SEBI that was also sent to media houses.

''This is the first time an internal whistle blower took pains to unravel a fictitious payment to an ex-CFO and a suspicious acquisition with personal conflicts attributed to senior management. If this case is settled through the back door then no whistleblower in future will take the pain to expose such things.''

Infosys did not immediately respond to a request from The Economic Times seeking comment.

The letter further asked for SEBI to prosecute the board and management. The current board, under the leadership of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, also came in for criticism.

''The impunity with which the board both past and present dismissed the allegations when they knew they were wrong is unprecedented and just for this reason SEBI should dismiss this settlement overture and prosecute the management and board to set an example,'' the letter said.

The whistleblower said a settlement as currently envisioned by Infosys would be a sad day for investors.

''I think if SEBI really want to clean up the corporate world in India the Infosys episode will be the test case. SEBI can really punish them and set a great example. If Infosys is allowed to settle the matter through the back door it will be the saddest day for the investors and end of anymore whistle blowers taking the pain and risk in complaining.''