SOA News Desk
Nine Charged in Satyam Case
IBM was supposedly spooked by the investor suits and is said to have dropped out
Apr. 8, 2009 04:46 PM
India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the country's version of the FBI, filed 300-pages worth charges against six Satyam employees, including its founder and former CEO B Ramalinga Raju, and two of the company's former PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors Tuesday for criminal conspiracy, forgery, falsifying accounts, cheating and causing evidence to - poof!! - disappear
The CBI, which was reportedly anxious to prefer charges before the country's general election on April 16, said in a statement that it had 433 witnesses and collected 65,000 pages of documents. It congratulated itself for completing its investigation in a "record" 45 days.
Besides Raju, who confessed in a letter in January to padding Satyam's books to the tune of billions of dollars for years, the CBI also charged two of his brothers, the company's CFO, its VP of finance, a senior finance manager and an assistant finance manager.
The three finance guys were arrested over the weekend.
The company's founder, his brother, Satyam's ex-managing director Rama Raju and the company's ex-CFO Srinivas Vadlamani were arrested in January when the long-running scheme finally unraveled. They have remained in jail.
The third indicted brother, B Suryanarayana Raju, identified as a director of SRSR Advisory Service, has been out on bail.
Vadlamani reportedly confessed over the weekend that he had taken part in the fraud and fingered a team of people in the finance department who, he said, created a massive paper trail of phony invoices, forged balance sheets and counterfeit bank statements to cover up the fraud.
The two PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors were arrested some weeks ago but Vadlamani reportedly cleared them, telling the head of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India over the weekend they had relied on the fake documents.
However, according to moneycontrol.com, a local financial portal, G. Ramakrishna, the newly arrested VP of finance, implicated the auditors and said they helped fabricate the spurious documents.
Evidently the CBI is going with that version of events. PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is facing suits, prefers the Vadlamani account and issued a statement defending the auditors.
Allegedly the bogus paperwork was limited to only the records of maybe three dozen of Satyam's 600 customers.
A 51% piece of Satyam is currently up for auction; it is unclear what kind of a price it will fetch or what the company's liabilities will turn out to be. It needs the money just to operate. Last May it was valued at $7 billion. Now its market cap is ~$835 million.
Quoting the company's government-appointed chairman, Reuters reported that the company could announce a buyer on Monday, April 13.
Reportedly billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who told CNBC in an interview that he was interested, and New Jersey-based Cognizant Technology Solutions may bid for the shares.
So may Larsen & Toubro, an Indian firm that already owns 12% of Satyam, and Tech Mahindra, a joint venture between British Telecom and the local Mahindra Group.
Meanwhile, in addition to class actions filed in the US, India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) has charged Satyam and its founder with money laundering and diverting Satyam funds.
IBM was supposedly spooked by the investor suits and is said to have dropped out.