PERNOD INDIA APPOINTS 2nd MD IN 4 MONTHS AMID SCANDALS & REGULATORY CHALLENGES
By Susan Lewis
Source: Pernod Ricard India
French drinks giant Pernod Ricard has appointed Jean Touboul, previously managing director of the company’s Singapore-based Southeast Asia arm, as managing director of Pernod Ricard India to replace Paul-Robert Bouhier who resigned from the job after less than four months.
Touboul joined Pernod Ricard in 2004 as financial controller and internal auditor of Pernod Europe. He has taken leadership roles in various Eastern Europe and Asian markets before landing the role in Singapore and now India.
Speaking about his new appointment, Touboul said: “What I look forward to the most in my new role is to drive our many strategic priorities and the vast opportunities in a culturally diverse market.”
“I am very excited to have this privilege of leading a team of very dynamic and committed convivialists here. We have made huge strides in this market by building sustainable, industry-first operations, while aligning with our focus on innovation and transformation,” he added.
Touboul will face severe challenges in his new role in India, his predecessor Bouhier, who joined Pernod Ricard in 1995, could only survive the job for less than four months.
From allegation of tax evasion, to accusations of cartel formation by colluding with retailers and politicians, to being shut out from the Delhi city liquor market, Pernod India is confronted by many issues some could be politically driven.
Pernod India has since last September been under scrutiny from India's Enforcement Directorate in an investigation into allegations that retailers, manufacturers and opposition politicians colluded to form liquor retail cartels during the 2021 licence auctions as part of privatisation of liquor retail in Delhi city.
Delhi's liquor policy prohibited manufacturers from participating in retail sales, directly or indirectly. Pernod India was accused to be "in contravention" as it reportedly used bank guarantees to help friendly retailers obtain licences to run liquor shops that will sell mostly Pernod products.
Benoy Babu, international brands general manager of Pernod India, was arrested last November in relation to these allegations.
The agency also accused Pernod India of illegally making profits of USD23 million by giving false price information to Delhi authorities.
Pernod India’s licence to supply liquor in Delhi city has been suspended since last September, the company has applied for renewal but with no success due to ongoing investigations into the company.
The company also faces a USD240 million federal tax demand for allegedly undervaluing imports for over a decade to avoid full payment of duties.
India's customs authority in a court filing last year called the company a "habitual litigant" and accused it of a conspiracy "to defraud the Government of India of its legitimate revenue".
Pernod India has strongly denied the allegations.
The appointment of Touboul, with his past credential as financial controller and internal auditor, could possibly help Pernod India navigate the tricky regulatory challenges it is currently facing.
(the writer can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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