Meet the Kudvas, the couple in Sebi’s firing line
- The couple met at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, each pursuing independent disciplines between 1984 and 1986.
When Omidyar India chief Roopa Kudva was an independent director on Infosys Ltd’s board in 2017, she came under a scathing attack from the company’s co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.
At the time, Murthy alleged corporate governance lapses at Infosys with regard to the high severance package paid to former chief financial officer Rajiv Bansal. “Ms Roopa Kudva said that we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement if we wanted to know the reason (for the severance package)!,” Murthy had remarked.
Kudva was replaced as the chairperson of the Audit Committee following the incident.
Today, she faces a far graver situation.
On Monday, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) barred Kudva and her husband Vivek, head of the Asia Pacific region for Franklin Templeton, from the capital markets for a year, besides imposing monetary penalties for unfair trade practices.
Sebi noted that the husband-wife duo and Vivek Kudva’s late mother Vasanthi redeemed their personal investments from the six beleaguered debt schemes of Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund based on confidential and non-public information. The Kudvas redeemed their investments before shutting down the debt schemes.
The couple met at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, each pursuing independent disciplines between 1984 and 1986.
After IIM Ahmedabad, Roopa Kudva joined the IDBI Bank in 1986. In 1992, she joined Crisil as a senior rating analyst. She remained with Crisil till 1998 before taking up a senior role at S&P Global Ratings, where she worked till 2000. She then returned to Crisil as executive director and was promoted to managing director (MD) and CEO, where she continued. In 2015, Omidyar Network was on the lookout for a new head for its India investments. Jayant Sinha, the former MD, had just quit. Roopa Kudva stepped into the job in March 2015.
Vivek Kudva has over 34 years of experience in the financial services sector. After his MBA, he worked with HSBC till 2004. He then joined National Bank of Oman for two years. From 2006, he has served at Franklin Templeton India.
Sebi noted that Vivek Kudva should have conducted justly in line with the quasi-fiduciary responsibility. Sebi underlined that Vivek Kudva should have declared upfront his investments and should have sought to recuse himself from any decisions. Further, he should have refrained from accessing any non-public information.
But far from recusing himself, he went about seeking non-public information like liquidity profile, redemptions, concentration etc. which are critical indicators of the failing health of the debt schemes under winding up, it noted.
The markets regulator also highlighted that Roopa Kudva is an experienced finance professional in her own right and was expected to be aware of the sensitivity of the transaction.
“My personal transactions in the two schemes have been conducted in good faith and with no intent to gain unfair benefit,” Vivek Kudva said.