I was the signing authority at our company which was acquired this year, by a French based company. The Indian entity decided to integrate with our company and while doing so they moved me into a new role and laid off two of my staff. They then forced me to resign 2 weeks ago on grounds that some purchases that we had done were over priced, some transactions that i had approved, had some discrepencies, such as order quantity being higher than necessary, etc. During the investigations, they did not call me or interrogate me or give me any chance to clarify. They said that if they had given me a chance to clarify and i was not able to, then there would be other complications which could jeopardize my career.

While asking me to leave, they said they know that i was not involved in any fraud, but since i had signed, i was accountable. They also promised 3 months notice period, gratuity and profit sharing.

Last week, when I called HR, she said that they are conducting a fraud investigation as they have found more issues. They want me to come and help them respond to these. There was a transaction with the landlord of the facility, which may cause them loss of money deposited with landlord. Since we had a good relation with the landlord and I have signed the transactions they want me to help. They say they will settle my full and final only once they obtain the deposit.

What am I supposed to do now.

From India, Bangalore
Dinesh Divekar

Dear friend,

When mergers and acquisitions take place, issues of this kind are common. The acquiring company always has whip hand. Possibly they wanted to remove you and for this they are raising issues of this kind. Many times MNCs are penny wise and pound foolish. That is why are could be looking at these smaller issues. My paragraph-wise comments are as below:

Paragraph No 1: - Were you Purchase Head or Purchase manager? While ordering quantity, did you take into account past consumption of material? Did you place a note as to why this quantity was ordered? Accumulation of inventory of some or other item is the perennial problem the world over. Secondly, you have written that "some" purchases were overpriced. Then were the purchases made after doing price comparison? Sometimes quality comes with price too therefore, "cheap' need not be the best. Therefore, while selecting some supplier even with higher quoted price, did you calculate Total Acquisition Cost (TAC) or Life Cycle Cost (LCC) and attach an internal note to this effect while issuing the PO?

Since they did not call you for enquiry, these arguments, though important, do no hold water. Nevertheless, you could have written a mail justifying your stand.

There could be somebody from the audits department in the new company who wanted to make his/her presence felt. In a zeal to jump into the limelight are you made scapegoat? Are you victim of logical overreach?

Caesar's wife must be above suspicion goes the famous idiom. If you are from purchase then opposite is true i.e. Caesar's wife must be suspected. Procurement professionals are prone to suspicion than any other professionals.

Paragraph No 2: - They have made promise of payment of dues as per the terms of employment. Is there any written assurance or is it verbal?

Paragraph No 3: - While hiring some property on rent, your company must have signed the agreement with the landlord. In that case the amount of deposit must have been mentioned in the agreement. You had signed the agreement on behalf of the company. Your company had authorised or delegated powers to sign the agreement. After your resignation, the person who holds the charge, it is his or her responsibility to settle the matter. Why they wanted to call you? All that the company is required to do is to send a letter to the landlord stating that the person who dealt with him has been changed. Why company wanted to link your Full and Final Settlement (FFS) with the acquirement of amount of deposit from the landlord is not understood. Personal relationship has no meaning while dealing in official matters. While signing agreement, you had used your positional power. Now the person who holds this power, it is his or her responsibility to settle the issue.

Last comments: - If you were signatory for the landlord's agreement or were signing the POs then you must have held position of VP or Director. Why a person of your stature should get confused is not understood. Before tendering the resignation, did you ask for the interview of the senior authority? Why you did not tell firmly that you were open for the enquiry of any kind? In the extreme case, you even could have given lawyer's notice for maligning your character or tarnishing your image by raising the issues through back door rather than conducting the official enquiry. A timely lawyer's notice could have prevented headaches and heartburn too.

Anyway, your previous employment is closed chapter. Therefore, try to get the FFS and forget everything except the lessons learnt. To get FFS, give them help whatever is required.

All the best!

Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Thank you for your response Dinesh.
Yes, I was General Manager for administration, which included purchase. I was the signing authority for POs and for Landlord's agreement. This was a start up and I worked here for 10 years, after which it was acquired. I conducted the purchases as per our then processes, but there are no documents with me as they had cut off my email and everything the day i was released.
But since the cost to company is because of my negligence, the company is linking my F&F to the deposit.
I have never committed a fraud, but if my subordinates have, will I be accountable for it.
Can i be sued if I dont go back to answer their questions now or will they just forgo my F&F.
Please advise whether there are such possibilities.

From India, Bangalore
Dinesh Divekar

Dear friend,

I have given reply to your post. Hereafter, whenever there is query from your ex-company, let there be written communication. You need to have proof all your communication.

If your juniors are involved in fraud then possibly you could be sued. While your personal integrity may be impeccable, if you had failed to detect the nefarious activities of your juniors, then you are answerable. It appears to me that some vendor or landlord must have spilled out bean on how the kickbacks were given. This must have alerted authorities of the new company and thereafter they started taking microscopic view of every decision. There cannot be smoke without fire.

There is a difference between error in judgement while taking decision and fraud. In fact those who commit fraud, they are very good at keeping all the paperwork perfect. Error in judgement is also different from negligence. Negligence results out of mistrust or not obtaining sufficient information before taking decision.

Let us not consider the persons at other end as morons. They must have some concrete evidence at hand. Sans this evidence they would not have terminate your services.

Your ex-company has erred on one major count and that is not conducting the enquiry. If they had done that, it would have strengthened their as well as your case.

As far as FFS is concerned, try to resolve the issue amicably. However, if the other side remains intractable then whether to adopt course of litigation is your call. You know the truth very well and no one else. FFS or not what is most important is getting "Experience-cum-Service Certificate". If you have not got it, first try to get this certificate so that you start looking for the fresh job.

Learning from the post for other members: - It appears that the poster did not upgrade his secondary skills of his job. I doubt whether he has taken training on purchase management or decision making skills. This is where many professional fail. This post is good example of how experience breeds complacence. The gentleman had smooth sail for ten long years and all of a sudden his career's boat met a rock. To steer away from such rocks, skillful navigation is required. For skillful navigation, one has to identify the primary, secondary and associated competencies of the job and train oneself. These competencies improve the quality of the decisions. The post proves inadequacy of the so-call "experience".


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

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