Akshaya Patra’s audit committee had raised critical points

BENGALURU: All’s not properly in God’s personal kitchen. The resignation of 4 high-profile unbiased trustees of the Akshaya Patra Basis (APF) this 12 months, about which TOI reported on Sunday, is claimed to be the results of critical variations between those that resigned on the one hand, and the chairman and vice-chairman of APF on the opposite. The variations had been across the shut relationship between APF and sure temple trusts, and the failure of efforts to make sure an arms-length relationship between the 2 to make sure good and clear governance.
The 4 who resigned embrace former Infosys CFOs Mohandas Pai and V Balakrishnan, Raj Kondur, who co-founded Chrys Capital, and Abhay Jain, advisor to Manipal Schooling & Medical Group. The 4 had been intently concerned in APF’s founding 20 years in the past, and had been instrumental, as unbiased trustees, in constructing APF into the large organisation it’s as we speak – one which feeds 1.eight million youngsters in 19,039 authorities and government-aided colleges throughout 12 states and two union territories. The funds it handles now could be humongous. In 2019-20, it acquired Rs 248 crore as grants and money subsidy, and Rs 352 crore as public donations.
Sources instructed TOI that a number of rounds of deliberations to deal with points hit a stalemate. When TOI requested APF vice-chairman Chanchalapathi Dasa on the governance points that led to the resignations, he stated, “Resignations are usually not associated to governance points or related-party transaction.”

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Nonetheless, TOI has accessed a seven-page communication written by one in every of APF’s audit committee members to the board that highlights a number of lapses, together with lack of primary inside monetary management and monetary self-discipline, absence of arm’s size relationship between APF and temple trusts, conflicts of curiosity, lack of data/audit path, and a sequence of command outdoors the inspiration.
The elemental cost is that key functionaries of temple trusts akin to Hare Krishna Basis, Iskcon, Bangalore, and Touchstone Basis – which performed necessary roles in APF’s founding – are additionally key functionaries in APF on the board degree and at unit ranges, resulting in critical accountability points. The audit notice factors out, as an example, that APF meal prices are far larger than for related meals supplied by different related organisations. “Any quantity of questioning/evaluation didn’t yield any outcome as a result of the person kitchens are run by missionary unit presidents who by no means demonstrated their accountability to the AP (Akshaya Patra) organisation,” the notice stated.

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Suresh Senapaty (left) and Raj Kondur
Kondur, who was a member of the audit committee until he stepped down, confirmed a few of the points discovered throughout TOI’s investigation. “We acquired a number of whistle-blower complaints highlighting critical points at a number of Akshaya Patra places. Some complaints had been investigated and located to be correct, and others had been below investigation. Relatively than tackle these with the urgency they deserved, we as a substitute acquired resistance, and urgency round a witch-hunt from the Iskcon-affiliated trustees which ignored the findings of the audit committee. The earlier members of the audit committee have forwarded their findings and proposals to the suitable boards. We hope a radical and credible investigation is carried out on these issues,” he stated.
APF’s Chanchalapathi Dasa acknowledged to TOI the receipt of whistleblower complaints. He stated, “The matter was investigated below the supervision of the audit committee, recoveries made and motion taken on individuals concerned.” He stated the newly appointed chairman of the audit committee will evaluation related-party transactions for the fiscal 12 months ending March 31, 2020, and advise the organisation for any required remedial actions.
Requested about Chanchalapathi Dasa’s responses to TOI’s questions, Suresh Senapaty, former Wipro CFO and former member of APF’s audit committee, stated, “Responses contained in these questions are selective and don’t utterly replicate the reality. Whereas it’s the prerogative of the Basis and its accountable workplace bearers to be clear or select to not remark, silence on my half to this mail may be misconstrued as my endorsement of those responses which will not be acceptable. I’m unable to remark something extra, nor am I looking for to encourage any media trial on these issues that are very critical and require fast consideration on the a part of the workplace bearers.”
The audit notice to the board stated that that the “conflicting place of trusteeship of temple trusts held by the chairman (Madhu Pandit Dasa) and vice-chairman of the Basis together with their reluctance to recuse themselves from such (related-party) investigation proceedings is a critical bottleneck in guaranteeing a good investigation together with any credible follow-up/corrective motion ensuing from such investigation.”

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