Walmart probe found Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal had affair with woman who alleged harassment
Two days after Flipkart Group CEO Binny Bansal resigned after allegations of "personal misconduct" more details about the whole affair have emerged. Several business publications have reported that Binny Bansal was involved in a consensual relationship in 2016 with a woman who earlier in 2012 worked in Flipkart. But in July this year, the woman approached Walmart and accused Bansal of sexual harassment. Walmart asked a global law firm to investigate, and found that the affair was consensual but Binny had made an error by not disclosing it.
Reports also noted that Binny was made aware of the investigation carried out by law firm Gibson Dunn only on Monday, a day before Walmart and Flipkart made a public statement on the issue. After he was made aware of the investigation, Binny resigned.
On Tuesday Walmart and Flipkart had said: "Earlier today, Binny Bansal announced his resignation as CEO of Flipkart Group, effective immediately.... His decision follows an independent investigation done on behalf of Flipkart and Walmart into an allegation of serious personal misconduct. He strongly denies the allegation. While the investigation did not find evidence to corroborate the complainant's assertions against Binny, it did reveal other lapses in judgement, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how Binny responded to the situation. Because of this, we have accepted his decision to resign."
On Thursday, the Economic Times and Bloomberg reported that the investigation against Binny was initiated in July 2018 after a woman alleged that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation by the law firm reportedly found that Binny and the woman were in a consensual relationship in 2016. The Woman had earlier in 2012 worked in a call centre managed and run by Flipkart. However, she had left the company later and in 2016 she wasn't a Flipkart employee.
Walmart apparently kept the investigation secret and did not tell Binny about it until last Monday. While the law firm employed by Walmart did not find any proof of sexual assault and deemed the relationship consensual, Walmart management was reportedly miffed because Binny had not disclosed the affair when Flipkart and Walmart were due diligence ahead of their deal. Walmart had bought controlling stake in Flipkart in May this year, acquiring 77 per cent share in the Indian e-retail company.
Unnamed sources tell the Economic Times that after Binny was informed of the investigation by Walmart lawyers, he decided to quit. He then sent his resignation next day at 11am. In an email written to Flipkart employees, Binny wrote, "My decision to step down has been accelerated by certain personal events that have taken place in the recent past... These events relate to a claim of serious personal misconduct made against me, which was uncorroborated after a thorough investigation completed by an independent law firm. The allegations left me stunned and I strongly deny them. The investigation, however, did bring to light lapses in judgment, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how I responded to the situation."