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Insider trading case puts Indian business school in spotlight

The Indian School of Business, backed by some of the leading global companies, has been dealt another black eye with an executive board member charged over the largest hedge fund insider-trading scheme.

Billionaire Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam and five others, were charged by U.S. investigators on Friday in an insider-trading case, generating profits of more than $20 million over several years.

Among those charged, Anil Kumar, a director at consulting firm McKinsey & Co., is on the executive board of the Indian School of Business (ISB), a premier management institute which was placed second among Asia's business schools this year.

"The incident is strange and shocking," said Rishi Sahai, managing director of Cogence Advisors, a New Delhi-based corporate advisory firm. "Greed has overpowered all the corporate and management rationalities."

Kumar, 51, a resident of Saratoga, California, is a friend of Rajaratnam's and a direct or indirect investor in certain Galleon funds.

Located in the southern Indian city and technology hub of Hyderabad, the school's governing board reads like a mini-Who's Who of global business, drawing on leaders from LVMH and Dell to Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

The school has academic alliances with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the London Business School with an aim to bring in the best of global management practices.

The ISB, meant to rival prestigious the country's Indian Institutes of Management, boasts air-conditioned lecture theatres, a mix of four-bedroom and studio apartments, swimming pool, gymnasium, and yoga and aerobics centers.

ISB was dealt a blow in January after its dean Mendu Rammohan Rao resigned following widespread protests over his role as a board member of fraud-tainted Satyam Computer Services.

In December, Satyam made a botched attempt to buy construction firms in which management held stakes. The decision was announced after a board meeting attended by Rao, among others.

Satyam's founder Ramalinga Raju later confessed the attempt to acquire the firms was made to cover up gaps in the company's balance sheet that had been inflated for many years.

"Incidents like these make it amply clear that corporates and other institutions should go for better screening processes when selecting board members instead of just focusing on an individual's industry profile," Sahai said.

The ISB, conceived in 1995, formally started operation in 2001 as a not-for-profit organization.

The ISB ranked 15th in the Financial Times 2009 global MBA rankings, and placed second among Asia's business schools.

Kumar has sought leave from the board of the Indian School of Business "until he sorts this out," Dean Ajit Rangnekar said.

Kumar had an "enthusiastic" approach toward the school and was of "huge help," he said. "(It's) shocking. We need to wait and see," Rangnekar said. "Unfortunate things happen."

Source: Reuters


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