Whistleblower case: Infy woes mount as auditing regulator, SEC begin probe

Infosys CEO Salil Parekh
Trouble continues to mount for Infosys, hit by allegations of unethical practices by a whistle-blower. After the Indian market regulator, now the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has initiated a probe into the allegations, even as the central government has directed the newly formed auditing regulator National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) to look into the charges of wrong accounting practices at the firm.

“The company has been in touch with the SEC regarding the anonymous whistle-blower complaint and has learnt that the SEC has initiated an investigation into this matter. The company will cooperate with the investigation," Infosys said in an exchange filing on Thursday. 

"Also, Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) has requested additional information from the company concerning the anonymous complaint, which it will provide,” it added. 

Responding to the BSE, which had demanded a clarification from the company for non-disclosure of the whistle-blower complaint to the exchanges, Infosys on Thursday said the company was not obliged under the law to give such disclosure until the completion of the investigation.

“Before conclusion of the investigation of the generalised allegations in the complaints, a disclosure under Regulation 30 of the LODR (listing obligations and disclosure requirements) Regulations was not required," it said in a filing. "The disclosure made on October 22, 2019, was to respond to multiple media inquiries and reports."  

The Bengaluru-headquartered firm said it complied with its whistle-blower policy through placing the complaint before the audit committee of its board. 

Infosys received some support from ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala. “Sebi should not entertain such baseless complaints of whistle-blower and should make enquiry of all trades done on that day. This is being done purposely,” he said in an interview to a TV channel.

Dipti Lavya Swain, securities law expert and partner at HSA Advocates, said, “Depending on the magnitude of breaches and quantum of information involved, a show-cause notice from Sebi till the final order may require a few weeks in ordinary cases. However, for a company like Infosys, the process is likely to take a little longer.” The charges pressed against the company in the SEC seem to be much wider and will thus require more time for completion, said legal experts. Sources said Infosys was building up a strong legal defence.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel