Businessman settles defamation lawsuit over allegations of inappropriate behavior
SINGAPORE – A former board member of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), who was forced to resign over allegations of improper behavior, has settled a defamation suit he filed brought against two of its former leaders.
Businessman Manokaran Chakrapani had sued former SICCI managing director Kumaran Barathan and former human resources director Priya Rathini Rajan, accusing them of being the source of complaints brought against him by female employees during of a team meeting on May 6, 2019.
Mr Chakrapani alleged the meeting was an “exercise to plant ideas in the minds of these vulnerable participants”, who were then “coaxed into expressions and thoughts of abuse”.
He argued that the minutes of that meeting were defamatory.
The case was originally due to go to a 16-day trial in the High Court which started last Friday (11 February).
But after half a day of hearing, Mr. Chakrapani taking the floor to be cross-examined, the trial was interrupted and the parties began talks to resolve the case amicably.
Thursday, February 17, the parties’ lawyers returned to court to inform the judge that the case was settled.
The case was resolved out of court and the terms of the settlement are confidential, they told reporters.
Mr. Chakrapani, married with three children, runs Mano Equestrian Services, which distributes products related to horses and other animals.
He has won numerous business awards, including Rising Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018, and served as SICCI’s Honorary Treasurer for the 2018-2020 term.
Mr Chakrapani said he was “prematurely forced out” of his post on August 6, 2019.
He wanted the defendants to retract the alleged defamatory statements and publish written apologies in various newspapers. No quantum for damages has been specified.
In his defence, Mr Barathan said he called the meeting after an employee complained that a board member had placed his hand “on her back/on her buttocks” during a meeting. taking photos during a golf tournament on May 3, 2019.
Mr Barathan said he had a duty to investigate the allegations and decided to hold the meeting to find out if there were any other instances of inappropriate behavior.
The case was dropped after employees who spoke out said they did not want to pursue the case.