Inside story: A look at Zoho's Sridhar Vembu family row and how he reacted to allegations from his wife!

Zoho founder Sridhar Vembu is in a whirlwind of controversy after his wife Pramila Srinivasan has thrown shocking allegations against Vembu that he had abandoned her and his son and also refused to give her fair share. The allegations have been in a fashion of shaking Vembu's legacy and amidst growing setback, Vembu has reacted to the charges and offered a strong denial. 

55-year-old Sridhar Vembu is a native of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. Widely known for being the founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zoho Corporation, Vembu has also been one of the entrepreneurs to have a huge following and has conferred with several accolades. Vembu is the recipient of Padma Shri award and has been living in San Francisco bay area in the United States for nearly a quarter century. 

Recently, Vembu relocated to Mathalamparai village in Tamil Nadu and this development was covered by Forbes, that declared Vembu's wealth as five billion US dollars. According to Forbes, Vembu had moved to Tamil Nadu with his goal of creating employment opportunities in rural areas and promote knowledge sharing among his employees. However, it has also been reported that Vembu's relocation was not only due to his goal but also to what his wife has been alleged. 

Vembu is married to Pramila Srinivasan. They were married for 29 years and in August 2021, Vembu filed divorce from his wife. In the divorce case filed in California, Pramila has accused Vembu of intentionally disposing of a large portion of his Zoho stake in a complex transaction that transferred Zoho's intellectual property to India and eventually resulted in the majority of the shares being held by his sister and her husband, without informing or seeking consent from Pramila. 

Forbes has also reported how Vembu had abandoned his wife and his son, who is suffering from Autism. In a court filing earlier this January, Pramila said, "My husband of 29 years not only abandoned me and his son with special needs in 2020." "He decided to make fictitious transfers or sales of our most valuable community asset to his family members without their paying any cash or other consideration, and without ever telling me or asking my permission", Pramila added.

Pramila's lawyer John Farley said, "The community property law in California doesn't allow a spouse during marriage to secretly dispose of assets without obtaining the other spouse's consent. After all, community property in effect means jointly owned - a duty to be transparent with your spouse and not to engage in secret transactions to try to evade the 50-50 legal requirement." 

It has been reported that Vembu's sister Radha, who is the product manager at Zoho, owns the largest stake in the company at 47.8%, which is valued at $2.2 billion. Vembu's brother Sekar owns 35.2% of the company, which is worth $1.6 billion, while Vembu owns only 5% of the company, which is worth $225 million. The family was ranked No 48 on Forbes 2022 list of India's 100 Richest. As Pramila has made serious allegations against Vembu that he is refusing to give her a fair share by transferring the shares to others, Vembu has opened up and denied the allegations. 

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Vembu wrote, "I never ever transferred my shares in the company to anyone else. I lived in the US for the first 24 years of our 27-year-history and much of what continues the company was built in India. That is reflected in the ownership. It is complete fiction to say I financially abandoned Pramila and my son. They enjoy a far richer life that I do and I have supported them fully. My US salary for the last three years has been with her, and I gave our house to her. Her foundation also is supported by Zoho." 

He began the thread by writing, "With vicious personal attacks and slander on my character, it is time for me to respond. This is a deeply painful personal thread. My personal life, in contrast to my business life, has been a long tragedy. Autism destroyed our lives and left me suicidally depressed. 2/ My wife Pramila and I were in this fight against autism for over 15 years. She is a super mom and her passionate cause is curing our son of autism. I worked hard along with her. To ensure his safety I also took some of his treatments so I could know what they did to him." 

By blaming his uncle Ram for causing this mess, Vembu said he gave shelter to his uncle Ram due to his terminal cancer. "All of this mess was caused by my uncle Ram (my father’s younger brother) living in the US, who I gave shelter to due to his terminal cancer, taking out his own long running frustrations with my father. He is doing that by spreading malicious rumours about me and my siblings", Vembu added. 

Vembu tweeted, "Sadly Pramila has chosen to trust my uncle Ram who still lives rent free at our home, due to her own frustration that she feels I abandoned the fight on autism. All I can say is that if I am not serving the causes and people I serve now, my will to live would have left me. We have lived this tragic personal life. Now due to my uncle Ram’s falsehoods, the tragedy has added a messy legal dimension. I have always supported Pramila and my son and will continue to support them as long I live. I am confident truth and justice will prevail." "I will continue to build institutions and capabilities in rural India, my only remaining purpose in life. My prayer is that someday my beloved son will join me here. Please pray for us", he added.