Indian billionaire Binny Bansal resigns as CEO of Walmart-owned Flipkart after allegations of sexual misconduct
- Bansal’s exit followed an independent investigation that revealed lapses of judgment on his part, according to the retailer
The co-founder of Flipkart, the massive online retail operation in India acquired by Walmart this year, has stepped down as CEO following an allegation of serious personal misconduct.
Walmart, which bought a US$16 billion controlling stake in Flipkart Group in May – the largest single investment in its history – said on Tuesday that an independent investigation done on behalf of both companies did not find evidence corroborating the allegation against Binny Bansal, but it did reveal lapses in judgment on his part.
Walmart cited “a lack of transparency, related to how Binny responded to the situation.”
The investigation stemmed from an allegation of sexual assault that dates back a few years, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
“In late July … an allegation came to us. It was a claim of sexual assault against Binny,” the source said, adding the individual concerned was a former Flipkart associate who was not with the company at the time of making the allegation.
Bansal has strongly denied the allegation, according to a separate statement by Flipkart and its main shareholder Walmart.
Kalyan Krishnamurthy, who took over as acting CEO of Flipkart in 2017, will continue in that role.
Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal – who are not related – founded Flipkart, India’s largest online retailer, in 2007.
Walmart believes India, which has more than 1 billion people, could be among the world’s top five e-commerce markets within the next five years. Flipkart appeals to its customers for numerous reasons, including its various payment options. The company focused early on mobile phones, and in 2016 became the first app in India to reach 50 million users.
Bangalore-based Flipkart has acquired a string of other companies in recent years, from fashion e-commerce company Myntra to mobile payment firm PhonePe. Its supply chain arm, eKart, serves hundreds of cities and makes at least 500,000 deliveries daily.
Retailers based outside India, including Walmart, have faced years of political resistance to opening outlets in the country, where family-run store owners wield enormous influence. Before Flipkart, Walmart’s business in India was focused only on selling items directly to small businesses though its Best Price stores.
The Flipkart acquisition has given Walmart far more influence in India – both politically and economically.
Additional reporting by Reuters