Companies

The Sardar who won't be shooed away

Bindu Menon New Delhi | Updated on March 13, 2018

Subhinder

‘Ulterior motive' behind levelling of fraud charges, says former Adidas India chief Being made a scapegoat for exposing fraud, says former Adidas India chief





Mr Subhinder Singh Prem is in a combative mood. The former India chief of Adidas is in no mood to give up without putting up a fight.

Global sports footwear and apparel manufacturer and retailer Adidas, a day before its earnings season, had cited commercial irregularities in its India operation and blamed Mr Prem for it.

“In the last week of March, I was called to the US on the pretext of discussing business plans. Adidas bosses asked me to put in my papers and resign amicably. I was hurt but did finally relent after they promised a severance package,” Mr Prem said.

He alleges that once he was back in India, the company sent him a termination notice stating he was terminated for a “cause”.

Dues denied

Mr Prem says Adidas denied him his dues and also did not respond to his mails.

“For a month, I followed up with them through e-mails asking for the cause. Even in a divorce, you are given the dignity of reason for parting.

“Unfortunately, Adidas did not offer me one. I thought that the company was being petty in not giving me my dues it had agreed to in the severance package.”

Mr Prem, a Reebok head honcho, became an Adidas employee after the German company bought Reebok in 2005. He was heading Reebok's business in India before he was made Managing Director of Adidas India last year, as a part of an integration of Adidas and Reebok brands.

“Most people were from Adidas. And I was from Reebok. There were differences of opinion on business plans. But a commercial irregularities claim is not something I am going to take lying down,” he emphasises, adding the sporting goods major has pushed him to the wall to fight against the same company he worked with for 19 years.

He said that the company has various checks and balances in place in its accounting systems and the fraud charges that have been levelled against him have been done with an “ulterior motive”.

‘Scavenger' deal

Mr Prem also said that he was being made a scapegoat for exposing fraud in Adidas.

“I had brought to Adidas' notice a ‘scavenger' deal (dumping rejects) running into Rs 200 crore, where about Rs 20 crore was illegally made by senior officials.” However, the scam was brushed aside because it related to Adidas and not Reebok, and the request to notify the fraud to the auditors at the year-end was turned down by the headquarters.

Mr Prem said he has sought damages of Rs 15 crore, which includes his performance bonus for last year and his severance package. “It's about honour and not so much about money. With this kind of a charge of character assassination, it is difficult for me to find a job.

“Also I am counting every penny and consulting lawyers about the next course of action.”

Published on May 09, 2012

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