Softbank’s Rajeev Misra accused of running smear campaign against rivals to climb the corporate ladder

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 27, 2020 Published on February 27, 2020

SoftBank Board Director and CEO of Softbank Investment Advisers, Rajeev Misra, had allegedly led a smear campaign against his two major rivals within the company to climb the corporate ladder, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

In a major career coup, the former banker made his way to the top of the investment giant’s $100-billion Vision Fund by sabotaging two of his main rivals in SoftBank, Nikesh Arora, former president of the company and heir apparent to founder Masayoshi Son, and Alok Sama, the chief financial officer of international operations, who had worked closely with Son on important international deals, the report said.

The sabotage included planting negative news stories about them, planning a shareholder campaign to pressure SoftBank to fire them and attempting to lure Sama into a “honey trap” so as to obtain sexually compromising photos of him for blackmail, according to the report.

The SoftBank Board of Directors set up a special committee to probe the alleged shareholder smear campaign against Arora in March 2018. The investigation was in light of shareholder allegations against the conduct of Arora and Sama in 2016, according to a Financial Times report.

The special committee had not reached any conclusion in this investigation, the report said.

According to the WSJ report, Misra had taken the help of Italian businessman Alessandro Benedetti, who worked with private intelligence operatives and computer hackers to execute this smear campaign, the plans for which began in 2015. Misra had also allegedly asked two businessmen in India to submit a complaint against Sama to a government regulator, according to the report.

‘A series of faleshoods’

A spokesperson for Misra has denied these allegations which “contain a series of falsehoods.”

A spokesperson for SoftBank told WSJ that they have been investigating this “campaign of falsehoods” against the SoftBank Group and its former employees “for years.” The company will further review the inferences made by the report.

The profit margin of the Japanese conglomerate, which has backed companies such as Uber India, Oyo India, and We Work, plummeted 99 per cent in December 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier. SoftBank reported a quarterly operating income of 2.59 billion yen ($23.6 million) in December, NewYork Times reported.

Published on February 27, 2020
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