Will ensure zero tolerance for illegal, improper conduct: Cognizant CEO to staff

Cognizant CEO Francisco D'Souza said that the recent bribery case on two of its former top executives was dealt with "rigour and transparency".

Published: 18th February 2019 06:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th February 2019 06:17 PM   |  A+A-


Cognizant (File photo | Reuters)


NEW DELHI: Advocating the company's "zero tolerance" for illegal and improper conduct, Cognizant CEO Francisco D'Souza has told employees that the firm continues to ensure that its staff is trained on anti-corruption and made fully aware of compliance policies and procedures.

The move comes at a time when the US company has announced it is settling charges related to a bribery case in India. Cognizant, which has a majority of its employees based in India, will pay USD 25 million to the US Security and Exchange Commission to settle the charges. The US Department of Justice (DOJ), on the other hand, has filed criminal cases against two of its former top executives.

In a recent mail to employees, D'Souza said the developments have been a "difficult chapter" in the company's history and that it had addressed the situation with "rigour and transparency". "It's worth noting that this matter does not involve our work with clients and has not had an impact on our ability to provide the quality services our clients expect from us. I'd ask you all to now continue to remain focussed on delivering to our clients in our usual, high-quality way," he wrote.

D'Souza highlighted that the company has instituted measures to ensure that it has "top-notch anti-corruption compliance and internal controls over financial reporting". "We continue to ensure that all of you have training on anti-corruption and our compliance policies and procedures. We've also implemented a revised code of ethics," he said.

In 2016, Cognizant had started conducting an internal investigation into possible violations of laws in the US, amid allegations that the IT major had made improper payments to obtain permits and building licenses in India.

Last week, the company said it would pay approximately USD 28 million to the US SEC and US Department of Justice to settle the matter. However, two former senior officials of Cognizant - Gordon Coburn and Steven Schwartz - have been charged in a 12-count indictment in the said case. "I want to emphasize to you that at Cognizant, building and protecting our reputation is the shared responsibility of each of our 282,000 associates. One misguided action, one violation of our policies, one result achieved the wrong way can hurt all of us. We have zero tolerance for any illegal and improper conduct," D'Souza said.

He added that the company's voluntary and prompt self-reporting, comprehensive investigation and cooperation had led to the DOJ declining the matter, meaning the company has "now resolved all outstanding issues with them".

D'Souza said the developments close out all US government proceedings against the company and that the case against the two former executives are a result of the government's own investigation. "These cases are a matter between the government and these individuals and the charges against them will be addressed by the court system," he added.

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