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ICAI still to resolve 5 yr old Global Trust Bank case
February, 04th 2009

Satyam's auditors, Pricewaterhouse has sought more time to reply to a show cause notice by the Institute of chartered accountants India, as the auditors are in jail, and therefore unable to reply.

Three days before demitting office as president of the Institute Chartered Accountants of India, Ved Jain will be inaugurating the accountancy museum in Noida, near Delhi, showcasing the evolution of the profession in India since 1905 and displaying such exhibits as the 1708 balance sheet of the East India Company.

But at a time when the Satyam episode had dented the credibility of accounting statements, the institute could have presented a better balance sheet of its concern for professional rectitude if it had tried to get written replies for its show cause notice from Satyam Pricewaterhouse auditors who are now in jail, or tried to obtain access to them.

If the institute were keen to shore up confidence in itself as a self-regulating organisation, it should have given us a low down of the disciplinary proceedings against Pricewaterhouse in another celebrated case, Global Trust Bank. The institute has been sized of the issue since July 2004, enough time for due process and the principles of natural justice to work themselves out. But every time one asks for a status of the case, how many hearings have been held, and how close the case is to closure, the institute stonewalls saying it is a quasi-judicial body, that the information is confidential and cannot be shared with the public.

Ved Jain, President, ICAI said, I may not be in a position to say how many hearings we have held, but hearings are going on regularly and we shall soon give a report.

Some chartered accountants in the know said that the GTB hearings are more or less over.

But when we asked disciplinary committee member Uttam Prakash Agarwal, who will take over as the next President, he said the institute would not come under media pressure, that Pricewaterhouse was cooperating; it is the regulators who have been dilatory. However, the ICAI being a judicial process, no deadline could be fixed.

J Venkateswarlu, another member on the panel said he was not competent to speak to the press while a fourth member, O P Vaish, said he had not had the time to be present at all hearings and that there have been quite a few adjournments. He hopes the case would be put to rest within one year.

A government nominee to the central council said it is the Reserve Bank that has to supply information in the GTB case. But he said that the institute has been given the authority of a court to speed up justice, it should not cite that as a reason to block answerability.

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