Yesterday a friend pointed out an interview of Mr. Azim Premji in Economic Times.

One quote was: “Subhiksha was unfortunate. I think it is a retail equivalent of Satyam. I think the media has completely ignored it, its a very interesting minefield for you. It is an out and out fraud, there is no question on it. The Company Law Board is investigating it. There was an overstatement of accounts, fake inventory, fake bills, fake companies that money was transferred to. At the time of investment that was not visible to us.”

Very strong statement from a very trustworthy man. However he did not say what conversation he has had with ICICI – and how he does not hold them culpable. And to think this is a ‘Qualified Professional’ who did it.

One venture capital CEO told me ‘Subhiksha is run by a very intelligent man. Sad he is too intelligent for me to deal with him. He scares me.’ And this was not a compliment.

However Mr. Premji may have come across such a company for the first time in his life. If his managers had done a due diligence…..a lot of this was visible. Just that Subhiksha got away with it so long.

About 23 years ago a clients driver hit somebody on the road – and the person eventually died. The lawyer advised him not to go anywhere near the hospital to inquire about the patient. The lawyer found out that nobody had claimed the body – and was disposed off by the Municipal authorities. Nothing happened.

You have heard of ‘Getting away with murder?’ I have seen it.

There are 2 sets of India – one which follows the rules. One which does not. Wipro belongs to the first lot. Subhiksha belongs to the second lot.

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  1. The role played by the board is disappointing they had people like Rama Bijapurkar who btw also sits on the Infosys board (a company which follows rules) and a former LIC chairman. Seems nobody cares about their reputation/credibility, if the price is right lend your name seems to be the motto

  2. ha ha ha. People on the Board. They come half an hour before the meeting. Only question is can u please book me for a Wednesday Morning flight? Where will u put me up for Wed night? What time should I reach the venue? Will the car be with me for the full day?

    They then catch up on other business or meeting a sibling or a cousin or a child. Then some of them are busy sending sms DURING the meeting if it is a routine meeting. Questions relating to accounts are rarely asked. Once in a while they scream at every employee to show they are tough – but so much wool in the head it is easy to pull it over their eyes (dialog from Yes Minister).

    One or two of them who are really good are hounded out – remember SM DATTA? who wants him on the board. NOBODY. YH Malegam, HK Bilpodiwala, …OMG nobody dares get these guys on board or as a TRUSTEE OR A DIRECTOR OF A MUTUAL FUND. Easy to get pliable guys even Mr. Murthy likes nice soft good people. QED. To see the truth you need guts.

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