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Satyam scam: Team confers with CBI
July, 25th 2009

A three-member team of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (popularly known as SEC), the federal agency that regulates securities industry in U.S., on Friday, exchanged notes about the progress of investigation into the Rs.7,000 crore Satyam Computers fraud with Ashwani Kumar, Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and other officials.

This was the first time that the multi-disciplinary investigation team (MDIT) of CBI confronted SEC after it sought the Central government and CBIs permission to investigate the fraud in India. The U.S. team, representing the Division of Enforcement of SEC, comprised leader Reid Muoio and his assistants Eric Hubbs and James Valentino. They met the senior management of Mahindra Satyam and auditors of KPMG who are involved in restatement of accounts of the company on Thursday.

The MDIT head, V.V. Lakshminarayana, told The Hindu that the U.S. delegation discussed with them how the scam occurred and how to fill the loss of investors in the Satyam scrip that was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). They wanted to know the role of promoters of the company and the Price Waterhouse audit firm whose partners were arrested in the fraud.

The visitors were mainly looking into loss suffered by shareholders and had extensive discussions with officials of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which was SECs counterpart in India, he added.

Meanwhile, the court which is trying the Satyam fraud on Friday heard petitions by former Satyam chairman B. Ramalinga Rajus sons, Teja Raju and Rama Raju (Junior), against freezing of their bank accounts by CBI. Mr. Rama Raju Jr. also wanted the CBI to return to him the personal computers, laptops and pen drives seized during raids on their premises after the scam assumed serious proportions in January.

CBI counsel Balla Ravindranath argued that the accounts of Rajus in HDFC Bank were suspected to contain funds diverted by Satyam.

If the court permitted defreezing of accounts, the brothers might withdraw the entire amount in a single day. If investigation by the agency proved that the funds indeed had been diverted, they might have to be confiscated by the government subsequently.

Orders reserved

The counsel informed the court that the computers, laptops and pen drives could not be returned as they were sent to forensic lab for examination. Mr. Rama Raju Jr. wanted them because they contained material for the doctoral thesis of his wife. The magistrate reserved orders for August 13.

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