The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Police turn heat on Nalco boss

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 14: Mumbai police have asked National Aluminium Company (Nalco) chairman-cum-managing director C. Venkataramana to surrender for allegedly trying to molest a woman employee of his company on Sunday.

A 43-year-old executive has accused Venkataramana of making sexual advances at her when she met him in a five-star hotel suite in Mumbai on February 8 in a complaint lodged with the Sahar police.

Venkataramana, who was supposed to fly back to his Bhubaneswar home tomorrow, is likely to remain in New Delhi for a couple of more days to consult his lawyers, said company insiders. Nalco officials said the top executive of the country’s largest public sector aluminium company left for New Delhi on Wednesday to sign an internal MoU of the company.

On enquiries at his Nayapalli house about when Venkataramana would be back, his daughter said: “We have no idea.”

The police here said their counterparts in Mumbai are yet to contact them. “No one from Mumbai police has landed here looking for the Nalco CMD,” said Arun Sarangi, Bhubaneswar superintendent of police.

PTI quoted police sources as saying police teams will leave for Bhubaneswar and Delhi tonight to arrest Venkataramana.

Nalco regional manager Virender Singh, who had escorted the woman to the hotel and was named as a co-accused in the FIR, was arrested yesterday in Mumbai and later granted bail.

With the spectre of arrest looming large on the Nalco chief, sources said Venkataramana could have been evading the police to avoid spending the weekend, when courts are closed, in custody.

The disbelief that greeted the news here yesterday continued, with Venkataramana’s colleagues now convinced he is a victim of corporate rivalry. A qualified chartered accountant, the 54-year-old Venkataramana has been with the aluminium major for the last 16 years and holds the post of director (finance) as well.

“He is a nice man. What can one do if someone makes such a wild allegation. Nothing would come out of this,” said Dinabandhu Satpathy, deputy general manager (personnel).

Venkataramana’s friends in the finance fraternity share the feeling. “He is a nice gentleman and is a competent professional. Knowing him for so many years, I can say that he has been trapped,” said a member of the Bhubaneswar chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, where the Nalco boss is a member. “For a man who constantly quotes Kautilya’s Arthashastra, it’s a trifle disconcerting to know that he was caught in such an embarrassing position,” he added.

A few others said the incident might affect the image of the company, which is on the Centre’s divestment list. “Though production targets would not be delayed, the incident would affect the morale of the company as a whole,” said another senior official.

Email This Page