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Ness Wadia Must Resign, Britannia Violated Norms by Not Reporting His Arrest to Stock Exchange: InGovern

Ness Wadia was arrested in early March at New Chitose Airport in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido after the customs officials found 25g of cannabis resin in his trouser pocket.

News18.com

Updated:May 7, 2019, 7:38 AM IST
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Ness Wadia Must Resign, Britannia Violated Norms by Not Reporting His Arrest to Stock Exchange: InGovern
File photo of industrialist Ness Wadia.

New Delhi: Proxy advisory and corporate governance firm InGovern on Monday alleged that Britannia Industries violated listing regulations in not reporting the arrest of its promoter and director Ness Wadia, while demanding his resignation.

InGovern founder Shriram Subramanian also said the directors on the board of Britannia Industries should also ask themselves whether the continuance of Wadia, who was given a two-year suspended sentence by a court in Japan for drug possession, was good for corporate governance.

Citing Sebi's listing obligations and disclosure requirements (LODR), he said a company has to report any fraud, default by promoter or arrest of key managerial persons or promoters as it is a material event.

"The arrest of promoter was a material event and that was to be disclosed to the stock exchanges. That was not done by Britannia," Subramanian said.

This is a violation of LODR by the company, he said, adding Wadia must step down in the interest of larger corporate governance.

The business tycoon is heir to the 283-year-old Wadia Group and co-owner of Kings XI Punjab cricket team. He was arrested in early March at New Chitose Airport in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido after the customs officials found 25g of cannabis resin in his trouser pockets, the report said.

Wadia had allegedly admitted to the possession of drugs, saying it was for his personal use. He spent a period in detention before his indictment on March 20 and an undisclosed period of detention before a court hearing. The Sapporo District Court handed him a two-year prison sentence, which was suspended for five years, the Financial Times report added.

The Sapporo district court handed Wadia a two-year prison sentence, which was suspended for five years.

Subramanian further pointed out as "incorrect" Britannia Industries' assertion in a regulatory filing on May 2 that neither was the company aware of Wadia's arrest, "nor did the underlying facts and events, warrants any disclosure under SEBI (LODR) Regulations 2015, which deals with detention and arrests connected with offences involving corporate and financial fraud".

Subramanian also said, "in the interest of larger corporate governance and character, the board should ask themselves whether such a director is good for the company".

Comments from Britannia Industries and Wadia Group could not be obtained as query remained unanswered.

However, on May 2 Britannia Industries' submitted to BSE a letter written by Ness Wadia to its company secretary on April 30 regarding the suspended sentence he was given saying it was clear judgment.

"Hence I have been suitably advised that it will not impact nor impair me in the discharge of my responsibilities and I will be able to continue to play the role that I have done hitherto, both in the company and the group as also my other activities," Wadia said.

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