BANGALORE: Agastya turned on the television and tracked down TV21. The reporter was standing outside the BCL corporate office.
‘…we have unconfirmed reports that the BCL CEO Vikram Rajyavanshi has put in his papers and so has the CFO. Other BCL senior management officials including their Chief Marketing Officer, Agastya may also be putting in his papers shortly. There are no clear details on what may have caused this, but rumours suggest that there may be some irregularities in the IPO issue of the BCL Metrics JV. Involvement of a cabinet minister is also under speculation right now. The BCL and the BCL Metrics JV stock prices have been taking a heavy beating in this trading session…’
Agastya put the TV on mute. He looked at Sailesh’s message again. He had hoped that the news wouldn’t hit the media till the press conference, but realized that it was now in the open. The press conference was a calamity in the making, and now even he was under the scanner. Rumours were treacherous and unforgiving allies in corporate life, but their shadow remained even when the they were squashed or proven to be untrue. Rumours and reputation were strange bedfellows and notorious allies.
Agastya had been known to be an aggressive risk taker in all aspects in his life, but his integrity had been unquestionable. He was cognizant of the fact that his passions for the stock market would make him a natural contender for suspicion in the stock scam, and now Maithili’s evidence against Nandita could prove to be professional death knell as well.
The last few minutes had just increased the stakes. His personal battle was one that he had hoped to recoup with time, after all it was only about money. His professional integrity was now a lost, hidden dimension that could not be resurrected.
Sebastian called. ‘Have emailed the new press release. Want to see it?’
Agastya shook his head.
‘Please go ahead with it.’
There was a pause as Sebastian didn’t speak a word.
‘The process requires your sign off on anything being released to the media.’
‘ Just go ahead with it for now! I’ll respond when I can.’
His mobile rang.
‘Did Richard give you the approvals for the promotional offer?’
Agastya sensed that something was amiss.
‘I got an email a few minutes ago.’
‘Just hold on to it for now.’
‘But, Mark, we need to head into the press conference in the next twenty minutes…there’s…’
Mark interrupted him.
‘Richard is under the scanner…’
Agastya froze. He wasn’t sure how to react.
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘This scam seems to be more widespread than we had thought.’
‘Let’s call off the press conference, Mark, and this product launch. This is not the time.’
Mark cut him again.
‘It’s under consideration right now, Agastya!’
There was a heaviness in his voice. He could sense the hesitation.
‘Agastya, I have asked Sebastian to overlook the operations for now…till we have some clarity…’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘You’ve seen the news reports too, Agastya.’
Mark hung up. The screen on the iPad continued to post more reds with a few sprinklings of greens.
The blood bath was on.
(Excerpted from ‘60 minutes’ with permission from Westland)