A 55-year-old former Cognizant employee, who served as the Chief operating officer, has been fined $50,000 for bribing a government official in India. The Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) in the United States ruled that Sridhar Thiruvengadam, who worked with Cognizant on United States, participated in a scheme with three other Cognizant executives to authorize the payment of a $2 million bribe on behalf of the company to a government official in India in late May or early June 2014.
The case dates back to 2011 when Cognizant engaged a contracting firm to build its facility in Chennai, referred to as the KITS campus, and obtain all necessary government permits. Construction began in 2011 prior to the issuance of a required planning permit. Cognizant has been accused of paying bribes to an Indian government official to get the permit issued to facilitate the construction of the project.
Thiruvengadam has been accused of concealing the payment scheme by signing false management representation sub-certifications in connection with Cognizant’s 2014 through 2016 audits, the order said. The sub-certifications falsely denied that Thiruvengadam was aware of any fraud involving senior management.
“The payment was made in response to the official’s demand to secure the issuance of a planning permit that was necessary for the construction of a commercial office facility in Chennai, India. The scheme required that Cognizant’s books and records be falsified in order to conceal the nature of the payment. Thiruvengadam further contributed to the concealment by signing false sub certifications to the company’s management representation letters,” the order by SEC says.
Sridhar has been ordered to pay within 10 days a civil money penalty of $50,000 to the Securities and Exchange Commission for transfer to the general fund of the United States Treasury. The order was released three days ago.
Sridhar served as Cognizant’s chief operating officer from late 2013 until he was placed on administrative leave in late 2016. Cognizant accepted Thiruvengadam’s resignation in late 2018.