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Sebi moves SC for nod to quiz Raju
February, 03rd 2009

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) today moved the Supreme Court, seeking permission to interrogate tainted Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju on the Rs 7,800-crore fraud in the IT company.

The market regulator said it was constrained to approach the apex court for urgent relief in the most serious financial fraud in India that had large-scale national and international ramifications.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan allowed Sebi to mention the matter tomorrow after Solicitor General G E Vahanvati and counsel Pratap Venugopal submitted the request on behalf of the market regulator. Last week, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had deferred to February 9 hearing on Sebis request to quiz Raju and his brother Rama Raju.

Sebi had moved the high court challenging a lower court order, which denied it permission to interrogate the Raju brothers, who were arrested by the state police on January 9 the day a Sebi probe team had summoned them to appear before it in Hyderabad.

The Raju brothers, along with Satyams former CFO Vadlamani Srinivas, are now in judicial custody.

In related developments, Price Waterhouse the former statutory auditor of Satyam has sought extra time to respond to the show-cause notice sent to it by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) on January 10. It was given 21 days time to respond to the ICAI notice on the role of external auditors in the whole episode of inflating the profit of the Hyderabad-based IT company.

Since accountable persons are not in a situation to reply to questions due to the developments, which took place in Hyderabad, Price Waterhouse has requested for extra time, said Ved Jain, president of ICAI.

Under Rule (8) 3 of the ICAI Act, ICAI might extend the time for Price Waterhouse to respond to the show-cause notice to 30 days from 21 days. Jain said, The principle of natural justice is an inherent part of law under which such decisions are taken. He, however, added that the final decision would be taken by the Director, Discipline.

Meanwhile, the CIDs plea before the Sixth Additional Metropolitan Magistrate seeking a five-day police custody of Price Waterhouse partners and auditors S Gopalakrishnam and Talluri Srinivas has been posted for hearing tomorrow.

The defence lawyer filed a counter today and the judge reserved the order for tomorrow. The court was to pronounce its order on a bail plea that the defence has filed earlier. With the police custody plea pending, the decision on the bail plea will also be taken tomorrow.

On January 24, the two Price Waterhouse auditors were arrested by the Andhra Pradesh police for colluding with Raju in fudging the companys accounts.

The duo was sent on judicial remand for 14 days. Gopalakrishnam is Price Waterhouses chief relationship partner and Talluri its engagement leader. Talluri signed the last Satyam audit report on behalf of Price Waterhouse.

Also, the bail plea for SRSR Holding general manager V Gopalakrishna Raju is posted for tomorrow. He was sent back to judicial custody after a two-day police custody that ended on January 31.

The prosecution is of the view that Gopalakrishnam Raju has played a key role in various land deals done by the Satyam founder and his family. The police have seized several original documents of companies floated by Rajus family members.

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