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Wipro did nothing wrong: Premji to employees

January 13, 2009

Image: Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd. | Photograph: Jagadeesh Nv/ReutersHours after World Bank made public that Wipro [Get Quote] has been debarred from doing any business with the global lender, the company's chairman Azim Premji wrote to its over 100,000 employees saying that the company had not done anything unethical.

Denying charges levelled by the World Bank that Wipro provided improper benefits to the bank staff, Premji said, "Let me reaffirm that Wipro was right from a legal as well as ethical standpoint. We believe what we did what was right and we did it in the right manner."

World Bank bars Wipro, Megasoft, 3 others

The company, in 2000, had provided World Bank staff option to purchase its American Depository Shares at IPO price through a Directed Share Programme. However, the World Bank in June 2007 determined that this was a conflict of interest.

In an internal communication to the company's employees, Premji said, "We have always prided ourselves for setting the highest standards of business ethics in our dealings with all our stakeholders. We have built a strong culture which upholds compliance in letter and spirit. The approach was no different in this instance also."

The World Bank deemed the IT firm ineligible to bid for direct contracts from it for the period 2007-2011. The World Bank also named other companies that were barred from doing business it in a list made public on Monday.

Premji further explained that all participants in the Direct Share Programme signed a conflict of interest statement that their purchase did not violate any ethics or conflict of interest policies of their company.

Though the company maintained yesterday that the announcement will not have any impact on its revenues, its stock took a beating at the BSE on Monday. It, however, was trading 4.5 per cent up at Rs 237.6 on the BSE on Tuesday.

Assocham lends a voice of support: Industry body Assocham on Tuesday threw its weight behind Wipro which has been debarred from doing business with the World Bank on the ground that the Indian IT major had issued ADRs to employees of the global lender in alleged violation of rules.

"Wipro did nothing wrong," Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said.

Companies such as Wipro, TCS [Get Quote] and Infosys [Get Quote] practise the highest standards of business ethics and "India Inc would back the leading software firm", he said.

Assocham said the Satyam [Get Quote] case was an isolation which is under investigation by the government.

In a communication to over 1,00,000 employees Wipro chairman Azim Premji said that the company has done nothing unethical.

"Let me reaffirm that Wipro was right from a legal as well as ethical standpoint. We believe what we did what was right and we did it in the right manner," he said.

The company, in 2000, had provided the Bank staff option to purchase its American Depository Shares at its initial public offer price through a directed share programme.

However, the bank in June 2007 determined that this was a conflict of interest. -- PTI

Image: Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd. | Photograph: Jagadeesh Nv/Reuters



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