Guest Column

It is an old saying that a marwari banya sits over a decision for many days before operating on it. I found it very true in 1993 when a top businessman of India rang me up and said that he wanted to meet me urgently and urged me to come to his house. I was conducting the evening news meeting and as soon as it ended I drove to his house. I found him in bad shape when I reached his house. He told me that there had been an income tax raid a short time ago. I asked him who had informed the Income tax authorities. He narrated the story.

 He had an accountant who was his right hand man and was dealing with all his unaccounted money transactions. So he had all the information and secrets. He was caught misappropriating a large sum of money. Since he had been a deeply trusted employee the businessman got very angry and dismissed him. All this had happened the previous afternoon. The trusted employee went straight to the Income Tax and informed them about the unaccounted money.

 I asked him why he dismissed him in such a way. I told him that some time back the PA of the ED of the newspaper I was working with was caught committing the same offence. The ED coolly discussed it with a few close colleagues, I was one of them. It was decided that he should be asked to leave and as much money as was possible should be retrieved. He was given an offer: Either he should resign after reimbursing the stolen money or else he would be handed over to the police. The threat worked and he returned most of the money and resigned. The matter was not known to persons except whom the ED consulted.

 I advised him that since the matter was with the IT Department and the news had not yet leaked, he should immediately talk to the highest officers in the Department and narrate the whole situation. He should request to prevent the news from leaking out until the completion of the International Conference next month. After that the appropriate action could be taken. He should also talk to the FM and apprise him of the entire situation and seek mercy till the end of the Conference.

 Since both were his close friends he was able to persuade them and the matter ended. In the end, as it happens always he was let off by paying a heavy penalty and tax that he evaded.

 The first basic law of Family Business is to treat your man-of-confidence with kid gloves, though it may involve heavy cost. The cost of annoying him will be far greater.


Dr. Y. C. Halan, is the former Resident Editor of The Financial Express and Editor of HT Investor and Business & Management Chronicle.