The questioning of Ramesh Rajan, chairman and CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers, India (PwC) by CBI last week, has revealed that the Satyam balance sheets were in fact audited by Lovelock & Lewes and not Price Waterhouse (PW).
It is also learnt that the auditing fees, though deposited in the name of Price Waterhouse, Bangalore, was later transferred into the account of Lovelock & Lewes. "It is from here that the partners S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri withdrew the money," sources involved in the investigation of the case told TOI.
Apart from Rajan, other senior partners of PW, from Delhi and Kolkata, were also summoned by the CBI last week. The partners denied any association with PW, Bangalore and said that Gopalakrishnan and Talluri were not entitled to sign any balance sheet on behalf of PW.
"So as it turns out, the auditors who are partners with PW, Bangalore, wrongly signed under the name of PW, and also outsourced the work to Lovelock & Lewes," said sources adding that investigations confirm that the entire auditing team at Satyam is from Lovelock & Lewes.
On being questioned by CBI about this "outsourcing" of work , Rajan, who is also a partner with PW, Bangalore said that the firm has no manpower and, hence, as part of an internal arrangement gives out their work to Lovelock and Lewes. "But this is not acceptable, considering that the two firms are completely different entities," said sources.
An India-based auditing firm, Lovelock & Lewes, though is a network firm of the international consulting body PwC, has no authority to audit under PwC's name. The CBI is now in the process of recording Rajan's statement and also plans to summon other partners of PW, Bangalore for questioning, later this week.
"CBI officials are hoping to be able to interrogate some partners of PW, Bangalore who are not attached with any other firm, so a to get a clearer picture about the functioning of this Bangalore unit," sources told TOI adding that if need be, appropriate action would also be taken against this particular firm.
However, for now, the investigating body has decided to write to Sebi asking it to ban the two tainted auditors from signing balance sheets of any listed company, in the future. "Even if they are released they should not be allowed to audit the books of any listed firm ever again. The financial fraud they have committed is of huge magnitude," said sources.