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Ministry plans to amend Chart'd Accountants Act
August, 17th 2009

The ministry of corporate affairs, in consultation with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), plans to increase the accountability of chartered accountants (CAs) by changing the way they perform their duties.

The move will come after the ministry receives ICAI's report on the Satyam Computer Services scandal, which was expected last month.

"I do not think the report has come -- it has not come to me yet. We have to take a view on the profession of CAs and the institute. But what view we take will depend on what their suggestions are, which would be in the report. The views we would have is if everything is working fine or not, and my view is that it is not working fine, so we will make some changes through some amendments in the Act," minister of corporate affairs Salman Khursheed told DNA Money.

The ICAI is a statutory body established by an Act of Parliament -- the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 -- for regulating the profession in the country.

Satyam, once India's fourth-largest IT firm, was taken over by the government after founder B Ramalinga Raju admitted to fudging accounts in India's largest corporate scandal to date.

Satyam was later sold through an auction to Tech Mahindra.

Analysts and critics have raised questions about the involvement of Satyam's auditors -- including PricewaterhouseCoopers --- in the scandal, and ICAI is investigating their role.

ICAI has already questioned the two former Price Waterhouse auditors, S Gopalakrishnan and Talluri Srinivas, who have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the Satyam fraud.

They were questioned on their involvement, but the report from the ICAI has still not been submitted to the ministry. The auditors were sacked by the auditing firm Price Waterhouse.

Uttam Prakash Agarwal, president of ICAI, refused to provide any timeline on when he would submit the report to the ministry.

ICAI has already suggested to the corporate affairs ministry to grant them more powers in auditing to prevent any more financial frauds.

The apex body has also suggested rotation of partners every five years and powers to restate accounts.

It is also creating a serious fraud detection cell to better handle 'Satyam-like' cases, which would help agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Board and the Reserve Bank of India.

The detection cell would be set up along the lines of corporate affairs ministry's Serious Fraud Investigation Office to "fast track" cases.

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