August 29, 2019 / 4:20 PM / 21 days ago

Moody's India unit ICRA removes CEO

BENGALURU, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Rating agency ICRA Ltd , the Indian unit of Moody’s Investors Service, said on Thursday it had removed Chief Executive Officer Naresh Takkar.

ICRA had sent Takkar on leave last month citing an anonymous complaint sent to the country’s markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Indian media reported that the complaint was about interference by the ICRA’s top executives in assigning investment-grade ratings on debt-laden Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS).

On Thursday, ICRA said it removed Takkar after “due consideration and taking into account the best interests of the company and its various stakeholders,” but gave no other details.

IL&FS, a major infrastructure financing and construction company, collapsed late last year after a series of defaults that triggered fear of contagion in the financial sector and forced the government to take control and overhaul its board.

Audit firm Grant Thornton, appointed by IL&FS’ new board, said in a report last month that credit rating agencies for years assigned high ratings to IL&FS and its group companies despite its deteriorating finances.

“I am shocked and highly disappointed at this decision,” Takkar told Reuters, declining to comment on the allegations. “I feel aggrieved that natural justice has been denied by the company where I have worked with utmost sincerity for the last 27 years.”

Vipul Agarwal, who was named ICRA’s interim chief operating officer in July, would continue to run the agency’s day-to-day operations while it searches for a new CEO, the company said.

CARE Ratings Ltd also placed its Chief Executive Officer Rajesh Mokashi on leave last month until further notice as it examined an anonymous complaint to SEBI. (Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Abhirup Roy and Alexandra Hudson)

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