Hit by charges of tax evasion and corruption, Cadbury India is all set to undergo a top deck rejig. Former PepsiCo executive Manu Anand is likely to lead the company's India operations reports CNBC-TV18's Farah Bookwala, quoting sources.
Chandramouli Venkatesan who is the regional category head for the chocolate division at Mondelez International, Asia Pacific region and is also an executive director in Mondelez's Indian arm, Cadbury, is stepping down from his India role. He will be forfeiting his position on Cadbury India’s board.
He will be replaced by Siddharth Mukherjee, who is a marketing lead at Mondelez Zurich.
Narayan Sundararaman, executive director for powdered beverages, gum and candy division is moving to Mondelez Singapore. Like Chandramouli, he too, will forfeit his board seat.
Apart from this, Neel Kant - executive director of supply chain operations is leaving the organisation. Frans Ryden, the finance director, is also said to be leaving. Sources say, he may have been asked to leave. A Cadbury India spokesperson denied that Ryden or Kripali are exiting, but confirmed the other changes to the company's board.
The spokesperson, however, added that these changes do not point to any internal turmoil.
In a statement to CNBC-TV18, the spokesperson said: “These elevations to larger roles and people movements are a natural part of any dynamic, fast-growing business environment, and ours is no exception.” However, sources say, the management shakeup is the likely fallout of tax evasion and illegal gratification cases against the company.
The company allegedly misled the Indian excise department on a plant set up in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh in 2009 in an attempt to evade taxes and benefit from duty and tax waivers. If this allegation is proved by the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence in their investigation, Cadbury will have to pay Rs 500 crore in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest from 2010 onwards.
The company also allegedly paid up to Rs 2 crore in bribes to various state government officials to obtain permissions for this unit. This case was probed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), but the details of the investigation have not been made public as yet.
This management clean up could also be a precursor to Manu Anand's arrival. Anand is set to replace Kripalu as India MD. Sources say, it is likely that Anand may have asked for a fresh set of people to be instituted at the helm of affairs.
Cadbury India has denied this saying that "there is no link to it".