Citizens' Issues
Indian woman claims lawsuit win against Wipro in Britain
Bengaluru : Shreya Ukil, a 40-year-old Indian woman who was formerly a senior techie at the Wipro back office in London, claimed to have won a lawsuit in a British tribunal against the IT major for sacking her on the grounds of gender discrimination, unequal pay and victimisation. Wipro, however, said the tribunal upheld the dismissal as appropriate and rejected claims of adverse cultural attitude towards women in the organisation.
 
"Wipro leadership team, including its (then) chief executive T.K. Kurien, conspired to push Ukil out of her job and her role in Britain," her lawyers Slater & Gordon said in a joint statement from London on Wednesday.
 
The judgment of the London Employment Tribunal found that the direction (to sack her) had come from the very top and was followed through with considerable resolve.
 
"Ukil was victimised by Wipro's leadership for speaking up about sex discrimination, unequal pay and a culture of sexism," the statement asserted.
 
Wipro, however, contradicted Ukil's claim, and said in a statement later that "it was pleased the tribunal had upheld the dismissal of the complainant from the services of the organisation as appropriate and rejected claims of adverse cultural attitude towards women in the organisation".
 
In an e-mail response to Wipro's statement, Ukil told IANS that she had won on her claim for equal pay, as she did same work as her male peers in same grade and that she was paid significantly lower than her male colleagues.
 
"The court also ruled in my favour on sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal," Ukil reiterated, adding that the verdict on her charges was published on April 18, while the verdict on equal pay was published on July 7, 2015.
 
Enclosing parts of the judgment's operative portion to contest Wipro's counter-claim, Ukil said the tribunal found that the company's rejection of her resignation in September 2014 was an act of victimisation and that she was dismissed unfairly.
 
"The tribunal found that I was a victim of acts of sexism and racism, as the company did not upheld the well-founded complaints of discrimination against me," Ukil said.
 
The tribunal also accepted that Ukil was asked to sign an indemnity to prevent from bringing claims against the company in October 2013 as an act of victimisation.
 
"The court verdict is in public domain. There is no out-of-court settlement," she affirmed.
 
Ukil, who worked with Wipro for almost 10 years and won multi-million-dollar contracts for it, started raising concerns in 2012, which went unheeded.
 
Instead of addressing Ukil's concerns, a series of decisions were made by the management behind the scenes, including chief legal counsel Inderpreet Sawhney, human resources global head Saurabh Govil and Kurien in a bid to remove her from her role in London.
 
Ukil sued the Bengaluru-based outsourcing firm in October 2015, seeking one million pounds compensation for gender discrimination, unequal pay and harassment.
 
"Compensation (referred to as 'remedy') will be decided at a later date," Ukil noted.
 
Sacking Ukil and her superior Manoj Punja, 54, the company said then that they were relieved from service after an internal inquiry established that they were into a relationship but did not report about it to the company as a policy.
 
Ukil, who was sales and market development manager for the back office operations in London, filed the lawsuit with the tribunal, claiming she was forced into an affair by Punja, a married man, who was head of its business process outsourcing (BPO) office in London.
 
Having lost all faith, Ukil raised her final grievances with Wipro chairman Azim Premji, who assured her of a fair and impartial investigation.
 
When she resigned from her role in September 2014 in an e-mail to Premji, her resignation was not accepted and she was fired four days later whilst still on sick leave.
 
The tribunal found that comments made by Wipro employees, Sid Sharma and George Joseph on separate occasions reflected an "extra undercurrent of sexism in their attitudes" towards Ukil, with remarks that aceplainly conveyed a sexist innuendo".
 
"I hope that following this judgment, companies will again reconsider their treatment of female employees, ensuring they are treated fairly and equally," Ukil added.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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German Finance Minister Cries Foul Over Tax Avoidance Deals

The German government may not be able to recover billions of dollars in lost dividend taxes from complex stock-lending deals that benefited U.S. and other foreign investors

 

Germany's top finance official criticized controversial stock loans that allow U.S. and other foreign investors to avoid paying about $1 billion a year in dividend taxes in Germany.

 

"I think we made very clear that we were not happy about these activities," Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Wednesday. He strongly suggested that banks discontinue the practice: "I am sure that all responsible banks and their boards will deal with this topic."

 

Schäuble's statement came a day after publication of a joint investigation by ProPublica, the Washington Post and the German news outlets ARD and Handelsblatt about the trades, which are arranged by U.S. and other banks using stocks borrowed from investment managers like Vanguard and BlackRock.

 

One major German player in the transactions 2014 Commerzbank, Germany's second largest bank 2014 has since said it will discontinue such deals even before a proposed law to end them can be adopted.

 

But the larger question of whether Germany will get back the billions it lost remains unanswered. Schäuble said Germany cannot claw back taxes that were avoided in legal securities lending. Though Schäuble called the trades "not legitimate," experts differ on whether they are forbidden under current law.

 

Revelation of the bank's participation in div-arb put Schäuble in an awkward spot. The government owns 15 percent of Commerzbank and has two seats on its board thanks to a 2008 bailout. And while taxpayers lose on the stock deals, they make money for Commerzbank's shareholders.

 

The controversy centers around a trading strategy called "dividend arbitrage," or "div-arb," in which large foreign investors lend out their holdings of German stocks so they are not on their books at dividend time.

 

The borrower is a German fund or bank that doesn't have to pay the 15 percent dividend tax that applies to foreign investors. After dividend time, the shares get returned. The tax savings are then split among the investors, banks and other players.

 

Confidential documents obtained by ProPublica identified Commerzbank as a key "end-user," where borrowed shares can be parked temporarily to avoid withholding taxes. They also named a who's who of global banks that enable the transactions and major investment managers that lend out German stocks.

 

Commerzbank's share price dropped nearly 10 percent since news of its involvement and a weak earnings report, and German politicians said they were shocked to learn that the bank helped investors avoid taxes.

 

One member of parliament called Commerzbank "morally bankrupt." Thomas Schäfer, finance minister for Hessen 2014 home to Frankfurt, Germany's financial capital 2014 called div-arb "pure tax trickery on the back of society" and warned that banks who engage in the practice face "loss of credibility and image" that can outweigh any profits gained from such transactions.

 

Schäuble is the highest-ranking German official to criticize the transactions. His agency has proposed legislation to stop the trades by making them too risky. A parliamentary hearing is set for next week.

 

At a news conference Wednesday, Schäuble sought to explain why, under current German law, the government may not be able to recover the tax revenue it has lost from the transactions.

 

"One paragraph in the general tax code says that if you use some tax instruments to avoid tax paying and if there is no economic purpose, then there could be a misuse," Schäuble said. "Excessive use of these instruments is not legitimate."

 

But Schäubleadded: "As long as these instruments, according to the highest courts, are and were not illegal until today, I cannot reclaim tax money."

 

Following is some of the other reaction inside Germany:

 

This article was written by Cezary Podkul, with reporting contributed by Arne Meyer-Fünffinger of Bayerischer Rundfunk in Berlin and staff of the Handelsblatt newspaper. Research and translation contributed by Jennifer Stahl.

 

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

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BurnNote: Delete Message Automatically
Many a times, it so happens that you have to communicate something private to a close friend/family member. And you are worried that it may fall into the wrong hands. For example, in an emergency, you need to send your bank 

account number, or your credit card number, to your spouse. You may send it via email, but there is a chance that, after using that information, the recipient does not delete it from the mailbox. Anyone having access to that mailbox can then misuse that information.
 
BurnNote allows a user to send a message to someone in such a manner that the message will be automatically deleted after a predefined number of seconds, once it has been read. So, if you have set it to 180 seconds, the message will destruct itself 180 seconds after it has been read by the recipient. 
 
The implementation is simple. Go to BurnNote.com or the BurnNote app, and fill up a simple registration form. Now, you can compose a mail to anyone and define, say, 180 seconds after reading it, it should self-destruct. If you want to be doubly sure, you can even create a password for accessing the mail. The site will generate a link and you can then copy-paste that link in your regular email. The recipient just needs to click on that link, enter the password (if any) and read the mail as desired. Once the mail has been read, after 180 seconds, the link will be inactive and no longer accessible to either the sender or the receiver. BurnNote can also be made copy-resistant using the Spotlight display option which limits how much of the message is viewable at once.
 
In short, BurnNote puts you in total control of your privacy. Maybe the US government should have used it for their diplomatic cables! https://goo.gl/wGgP0j
 

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