A day after being sacked from his position as iGATE CEO, Phaneesh Murthy claimed on Tuesday that he was a victim of “extortion” by an employee who has alleged sexual harassment by him. Participating in a telephonic media conference , Mr. Murthy denied he had violated company policy by not disclosing his relationship with Araceli Roiz, Head of Investor Relations at iGATE Corporation.
According to Mr. Murthy, Ms. Roiz filed a complaint of sexual harassment against him “late last week.” Asked about the nature of the complaint, he said, “I have not been motivated to see the letter.” He said Ms. Roiz did not report to him but to the Chief Financial Officer. Claiming that the complaint had not been filed in court, he said, “I will fight it vigorously if it comes to a court of law.”
Mr. Murthy said he had informed the iGATE Chairman of his relationship with Ms. Roiz “many weeks ago.” He admitted that he took this step after his relationship with Ms. Roiz, which lasted a few months, “was over.” However, Mr. Murthy refused to confirm whether he conveyed to the Chairman the nature of his relationship in writing or verbally.
Mr. Murthy referred to company rules that stipulated disclosures of “relationships” between employees as “a small note in the employees’ handbook in the company.” The company had earlier stated that his failure to disclose his relationship with Ms. Roiz “violated” company policy and his employment contract. However, it stated that its investigation had not “uncovered any violation of iGATE’s harassment policy.” Mr. Murthy denied he had violated company policy in any way, and said he reserved “all options” after consultations with his legal team. “I was not given an opportunity to present my views to the board,” he claimed. “I have not decided whether to fight my dismissal,’’ he added.
Mr. Murthy alleged that the same legal firm and lawyer, who fought on behalf of the sexual harassment complainant in the Infosys case a decade ago, had filed the complaint. “It is without doubt a case of extortion because it is a very easy way to collect money after the first case,” he contended.
Referring to his plight, Mr. Murthy said, “It is about as negative as it gets.” And, responding in a more provocative vein to a reporter’s query about how things came to such a pass, he said: “If you can figure out women, let me know.”
IT services industry body Nasscom Chairman Krishnakumar Natarajan, on Tuesday, said the iGATE board had taken a right decision to sack its President and CEO Phaneesh Murthy , emphasising that a “quick and decisive” action in such incidents augurs well for the IT industry.
“A right decision has been taken. I think the decision reflects what IT industry standards for,” Mr. Natarajan told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.
Natarajan said the board seems to have done a fairly thorough due diligence before taking the action. “It is a very isolated incident and has no bearing on the Indian IT industry,” he said. Shares of iGATE plunged by over nine per cent to $14.90 in early trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday.