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Siemens Gamesa fired India exec over lack of due diligence in consultancy dealings


CHENNAI: Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy‘s India unit fired a top executive after an internal investigation found he failed to conduct appropriate due diligence when engaging a consultancy with political connections, court filings seen by Reuters showed.

The unit’s former chief operating officer and chief financial officer, R. Venkatesh, disregarded corporate governance processes when dealing with UAP Advisors LLP, according to a June 28 filing in a case where Venkatesh is challenging his dismissal.

“Significant sums of money were paid to UAP without any diligence whatsoever and without even ascertaining proof of performance,” Siemens Gamesa said in the filing, describing UAP as having strong links with “politically exposed” persons.

It did not disclose the size of the payments.

UAP provides strategic advice to companies including those in the power sector. Ameya Prabhu, the son of Suresh Prabhu who has served as railways minister and commerce minister under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is a partner at UAP.

Venkatesh, who was fired in May, said in a statement to Reuters he was removed as the company owed him “a large amount of money” and will legally contest attempts to hurt his reputation. In court filings, he has called the internal inquiry “a sham” and said thousands of pages of UAP’s findings were shared with management over time.

Siemens Gamesa said in a statement its dispute with the former executive was private and would not comment further as the matter was before the court. It said it does not intend to initiate proceedings against UAP.

In a statement sent by Ameya Prabhu, UAP said it had “the highest quality of corporate governance” and was not aware of any internal Siemens Gamesa investigation related to UAP before Reuters sent its queries.

UAP added it did extensive work for Siemens Gamesa until October of last year and it had no dispute with the company.

A district court near the Indian city of Chennai in October declined immediate relief to Venkatesh’s demand for an injunction against Siemens Gamesa’s decisions.

UAP was hired in November 2014 by Spain’s Gamesa Corp to help it explore “the possibility of venturing into solar manufacturing,” according to court filings. In April 2017, Siemens merged its global wind power business with Gamesa to create one of the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturers.

Two years later, Indian law firm Panag & Babu, which specialises in white-collar crime probes, was hired to conduct an internal probe based on a complaint from an employee who alleged wrongdoing related to vendor payments, the documents show.

The law firm declined to comment.

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