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Centre yet to assess magnitude of Satyam fraud
August, 22nd 2009

The Centre is yet to assess the magnitude of the fraud at Satyam Computer Services and find concrete proof of fund diversion by its founder B Ramalinga Raju, who confessed to cooking the IT firm's books in January this year.

"The Enforcement Directorate and Internal Revenue Service are not looking at criminal culpability, but only probing charges on fund diversion to destinations outside India and among the firms promoted by Raju. I cannot quantify the size of the fraud, but can only say that it is huge," said Salman Khurshid, minister of corporate affairs.

CBI, the apex agency probing the fraud, has completed its investigations and has gathered enough evidence for prosecution. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has also given an in-principle nod for setting up a separate court to expedite trial in the Satyam case.

Even as investigations continue by the ED, the MCA has decided to institute an early-warning system to prevent recurrence of corporate frauds, he said.

Parallely, SEBI has enforced a peer audit review of the accounting statements of all Nifty and Sensex companies to avoid recurrence of a financial fraud. The Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI), which oversees auditors, will take disciplinary action against erring auditors and terminate their licences to audit accounts.

The role of auditors came under the spotlight as they were charged of conniving with the promoters of the tainted firm in perpetrating a Rs 7,000-crore fraud. Questions were also raised on the accountability of independent directors as they failed to detect the fraud at an early stage.

Hence, a restriction is likely to be imposed on the number of directorships that a person can hold in companies, he said. Independently, Sebi chairman CB Bhave also reckoned there was a need to examine the issue of independent directors being on boards of several companies.

Raju's brother, B Rama Raju, who was also the managing director of the firm, was named in the class-action suits. The government exchanging notes with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to resolve the pending class action suits filed by Satyam investors in the US, Mr Khurshid said.

In April, the government-nominated Satyam board cleared the strategic sale of Satyam to Pune-based Tech Mahindra to protect the interest of investors, clients and 46,000 employees.

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