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