A common perception in the chartered accountant community of Hyderabad is that S Gopalakrishnan, partner PricewaterhouseCoopers, wears the PwC brand on his sleeve in a manner that is not to the liking of most. The man who signed the now infamous Satyam balance sheets till last year is the one behind making PwC what it is today in Hyderabad, say his contemporaries and rivals. They say he knows how to bag clients in his "aggressive'' manner. PwC was Satyam's auditor and ever since Ramalinga Raju's confession to his "inflated balance sheet'' fraud, questions have been raised regarding the auditing firm's involvement in orchestrating such a huge scam in connivance with the Satyam management.
Two names that figure in the balance sheets of Satyam are those of Srinivas Talluri and S Gopalakrishnan, who have audited Raju's fudged accounts. PwC has claimed that auditing standards have been maintained. Talluri started signing the Satyam accounts since 2007.
Though PwC is asserting that it did not do anything wrong, city-based chartered accountants are crying foul. They ask why Gopalakrishnan hasn't quit from ICAI's council, despite his alleged involvement in the Satyam scam.
When PwC made an entry into India, it was through the local auditing firm Lovelock & Lewes where Gopalakrishnan was holding a senior position in the firm's Hyderabad branch. With Lovelock & Lewes becoming PwC India, Gopalakrishnan became the face of PwC in Hyderabad, with some describing him as more of an entrepreneur than an auditor. "He now was with a big brand and knew it was easier to get more business,'' says the head of a city-based auditing firm.
While his rivals in other auditing firms say that PwC's business in Hyderabad runs because of Gopalakrishnan, who is due for retirement next year, they wonder whether in his search for business he became pliable. Srinivas Talluri, who was with PwC in the 1990s left the firm to join Ernst & Young only to rejoin PwC later. His recent appointment with the global auditing firm is less than two years old. He is known in the industry as down to earth and simple. "Talluri is unfortunate to be caught in this mess,'' said a CA.
Gopalakrishnan is known as "hardworking business guy'' who is essentially "revenue-driven'' and focuses entirely on "growing business'' in Hyderabad. But over the last two years, it has been another partner at PwC, Ramakrishna, who is handling operations. "Ramakrishna and Talluri were being groomed to take on the mantle. It's a lost chance now,'' says partner with an audit firm.