Business & Finance

The Heroes that betrayed us

This list of corporate/business leaders who crashed in full public view is very long and as more and more get exposed, it could be a never-ending one.


The past couple of years, in particular, have witnessed the downfall of top Indian corporates and their top dogs. All these superheroes, which earlier were industry leaders and role models, have come crashing down, exposing the fact that their carefully cultivated image was an utter farce and was the result of misleading PR campaigns and their crafty manipulation of the system. We are referring to corporate malpractices, mismanagement and misconduct, often with an integrity deficit, which exposed business leaders and triggered their downfall. They used to be our much-admired heroes that the public emulated, but not anymore.

This list of corporate/business leaders who crashed in full public view is very long and as more and more get exposed, it could be a never-ending one. It starts with the shocking downfall of Chanda Kochhar, the ICICI Bank CEO, exposed on charges of corruption and corporate malpractices, and blatant manipulation of books of account to hide them. It brought huge losses, as also a reputational risk to ICICI Bank. Then take the shocking case of ILFS, the NBFC industry leader, that turned out to be a giant fraud of over Rs.1 lakh crores, with its top honcho Ravi Parthasarathy in London and his former colleagues on the board being jailed one after another, as the investigation agencies dig out their unending misconduct/malpractices. They managed to cheat one and all, with the unethical auditors conniving with them. The auditors of ILFS, viz. Deloitte and BSR/KPMG, themselves global audit leaders to stand unmasked for their conscious collusion and negligence in the ILFS scam. All their contentions of being knowledge leaders with ethical conduct have proved to be an utter lie. The crash of ILFS, with the crisis at DHFL, yet another NBFC leader, brought the entire system into dire straits.

The shameful case of cheating and fraud, by Maninder and Shivender Singh of Fortis, as also the giant fraud by Nirav Modi, all leaders of sorts in their respective domains, was yet another case of delinquent and fraudulent leaders who crashed. Nirav Modi languishes in a jail in the UK, awaiting extradition, while the Singh brothers are under threat of arrest due to their dodgy conduct in the Supreme Court. The case of Yes Bank’s erosion is no good and so is that of its promoter Rana Kapoor, whose blatant misconduct and disregard for regulatory compliance, compelled the RBI to terminate his tenure as CEO of the bank. For that matter, the negligence/mismanagement and corruption of the CEOs of every PSB is also part of this shocking and shameful list of the downfall of CEOs and their organisations, as is evident from the list of bankrupt public sector banks that are being revived through prompt corrective action and recapitalisation. Added to this list are the likes of Naresh Goyal and Jet Airways, the Singhals of Bhushan Steel, the former CEOs of the NSE and many others.

It is a disturbing list of top-ranking CEOs humbled, exposed now in the dust and their companies cheated. A common feature of them all is that they were all industry leaders, who turned out to be ones with integrity deficit or competence deficit or both. They crashed under the weight of their rash and reckless deeds, caused due to greed, ambition, blatant disregard for law and corruption. They were all powerful, influential, well connected and operated under the façade of carefully cultivated images and cunningly gamed the system; or were rather the system itself when they were in their prime and ruled the roost, which explains the fact why they perpetrated their misdeeds and malpractices for years. The system colluded with them and they immensely benefitted from their abuse of power, certainly at the cost of the organisations that they headed.

To us, the likes of Ravi Parthasarathy, Chanda Kochhar, Nirav Modi, Singh Brothers, the Deloitte/KPMG partners, Naresh Goyal etc. sail in the same boat, which is now sinking because of their giant unscrupulous and criminal misdeeds. The system colluded with them and did not restrain them when the going was good, and now the system has chosen to crucify them, for its own safety. To us, there is something seriously wrong, with our institutions and institutional processes, which let such individuals hijack and subvert institutions due to which common investors suffer and so does corporate India and the Indian economy. The story of corporate and banking India is one of the morally bankrupt individuals, who confidently manipulated the system and bankrupted the organisations that they headed, before they got exposed, and were thrown out.

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