CON­TRO­VERSY SEXAND THE CEO

Once the poster boy of In­dian IT, the for­mer igate chief may not find it easy to re­gain his rep­u­ta­tion

India Today - - CONTROVERSY - By M. G. Arun

In 2003, when Jennifer Grif­fith, a for­mer In­fosys em­ployee, filed a law­suit against Pha­neesh Murthy, the sec­ond such case against him, he vowed to fight it “even if it means dip­ping into my re­tire­ment funds”. A year later, Murthy, then CEO of iGate Cor­po­ra­tion, paid Grif­fith a hefty $ 800,000 to set­tle the mat­ter out of court. Now, a decade later, he may have to erode his bank ac­count fur­ther, as the sacked ex­ec­u­tive pre­pares to fight charges of sex­ual ha­rass­ment lev­elled against him by Araceli Roiz, iGate’s head of in­vestor re­la­tions.

Murthy, 48, who had ve­he­mently de­nied the first two ac­cu­sa­tions, ac­cepted he did have a re­la­tion­ship with Roiz for a few months, but rub­bished all charges of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. “Araceli Roiz… has filed charges against me claim­ing sex­ual ha­rass­ment. She has not filed in a court, just sent a let­ter to the com­pany… I do be­lieve the charges are com­pletely false. But it is pur­suant to a re­la­tion­ship I had with her,” Murthy said in a tele­con­fer­ence with some me­di­a­houses on May 21 from the US.

Roiz’s law firm, Ai­man- Smith & Marcy, how­ever, is­sued a state­ment on May 22 say­ing Roiz was preg­nant with Murthy’s child and when Murthy dis­cov­ered this, he pres­sured her to have an abor­tion. When she re­fused, Murthy told her to leave the com­pany qui­etly, the state­ment said. The law firm also said that it would be tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against iGate too, “be­cause iGate is li­able for the acts of Murthy”. The Cal­i­for­nia- based Ai­man- Smith & Marcy is the same law firm that dealt with the first two cases, mak­ing Murthy claim that he is be­ing vic­timised.

The lat­est mis­ad­ven­ture is likely to bring the cur­tains down on Murthy’s event­ful ca­reer. Once touted as the poster boy of the In­dian IT in­dus­try who jet- set­ted the globe, he struck lu­cra­tive deals for his then em­ployer, In­fosys. As the global head of mar­ket­ing at In­fosys be­tween 1995 and 2002, Murthy is cred­ited with hav­ing grown In­fosys’s rev­enues in the US from a mere $ 2 mil­lion to over $ 700 mil­lion. “He is an ex­tra­or­di­nary and clever mar­ket­ing per­son,” says Mo­han­das Pai, for­mer di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources at In­fosys. “He is an alpha male.”

But in 2002, Neme­sis struck in the

MURTHY

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