Bangalore: Today, more and more corporate leaders are finding themselves under scrutiny. No more the powerful can escape being persecuted, a result of an unfriendly government or crony capitalism. Sometimes, even the innocents are victimized, reports Surajeet Das Gupta, Bhupesh Bhandari & Ruchika Chitravanshi of Business Standard.
Few days later, the CBI found itself investigating eight issues that arose due to a taped telephone conversation of lobbyist Niira Radia with few of the high profiles.
The former managing director of General Motors India and current CEO and managing director of Tata Motors, Karl Slym is having a rough time for regulatory violations that led to recall of Tavera utility vehicle in 2013.
Not far behind is the Mumbai Police who made its fourth arrest in the 5,600 crore settlement crisis at National Spot Exchange. Nilesh Patel, Managing Director of NK Protein and a buyer on the exchange came under the grasp of the Economic Offences Wing of Mumbai Police. The former arrest included Amit Mukherjee, Assistant VP (business development), Jai Bahukhandi, Assistant VP (warehousing) and Anjani Sinha, CEO.Accused of giving a bribe of 30 lakh to New Delhi Municipal Corporation functionaries, the CBI arrested Micromax co-founder Rajesh Agarwal and 6 others.
One of the most high profile investigations that India has witnessed so far is related to allotment of natural resources coal and spectrum. The CBI has filed 14 FIRs so far that include allotment of coal blocks from 2004 to 2009.
High profiles like Jindal Steel and Power of Naveen Jindal, Rathi Steel and Power, Hindalco as well as Anil Ambani and Essar Groups came under spectrum investigations. Over allegations of insider trading, Mukesh Ambaniís Reliance Industries was also investigated by Securities and Exchange Board of India.
The exposure of the spectrum scam to some extent was possible because of independent vigilantes like social activist Prashant Bhushan, who are armed with Right to Information Act.
However, few believe that people are misusing the right to access and the current scenario reflects crony capitalism in the country. "There have been instances of misuse of access; we have to accept this," says Gopalakrishnan, President of confederation of Indian Industry and Infosys Vice-chairman. A senior CBI investigator said that corporate rivalry also influences such cases. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said that "because the industry is at war with itself and because they are trying to destroy each other, the consequences are that we are destroying the hen that lays the golden eggs. The industry does not speak in one voice. And, I am sorry to say, the reason for that is that each one of them had at some stage or the other sought favors from the government."
Commenting on the arrest of few of the officials in Amway, Pinckney who was also arrested but released after further investigation said that "I understand that if you get bigger, more folks look at you". "Maybe this is because of the folks who personally do not like it. They have decided that it is bad, for everybody else as well. And, (then) they become crusaders."
CBI officials however believe that the rumors of investors losing confidence on businesses because of such cases are an exaggeration and that CBI is not to be blamed for crony capitalism. "It is not as if the investor is not aware of what is happening or how opaque things are. Crony capitalism is not something created by CAG."