Employees of global software vendor Infosys, in a letter complaining of alleged unethical practices in the company, accused a top company official of mocking two independent directors with a derogatory reference to their place of origin, news agency IANS reported on Monday.
Infosys Chief Executive Officer Salil Parekh allegedly referred to independent directors D Sundaram and DN Prahlad as "Madrasis" -- a slur often used to mock those from southern states -- IANS quoted unnamed employees as saying in a joint letter to the company board on September 20.
Mr Parekh is also accused of referring to Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, a lead independent director on the 10-member Infosys board, as a "diva".
"The CEO told us, 'No one on the board understands these things, they are happy as long as the share price is up. Those two Madrasis (Sundaram and Prahlad) and diva (Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw) make silly points, you just nod and ignore them'," the two whistleblowers recalled in the two-page letter.
The term "Madrasis" finds its origin in an over 300-year period when the Madras Province, an administrative subdivision of British India, used to include most of southern India - including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha, Kerala, Karnataka and the Lakshadweep islands. Today, its use as a blanket term for anybody hailing from southern India is widely frowned upon.
Earlier on Monday, US-listed shares of Infosys Limited fell nearly 16% in premarket trading today after the software giant said that it has received whistleblower complaints alleging "unethical practices" by Salil Parekh as well as Chief Financial Officer Nilanjan Roy. "Parekh and Roy have been resorting to unethical practices for many quarters, as evident from the e-mails and voice recordings of their conversations," IANS quoted unnamed employees as saying in the letter.
"In the last quarter (July-September), we were asked not to fully recognise costs like visa costs to improve profits. We have voice recordings of these conversations," IANS quoted the employees as saying. They also claimed that in the quarter under review of fiscal 2020, the management put immense pressure on them to not recognise reversals of $50 million upfront payment in the Fixed Depository Receipts contract because such a move would slash profits for the quarter and negatively affect the company's stock price.
The letter claimed that critical information was hidden from auditors as well as the board.
Infosys - in its response - said that the complaint has been placed before the audit committee, and will be dealt with "in accordance with the company's whistleblowers policy".
(With inputs from IANS)