Hyderabad: Investigators looking into the accounting fraud at Satyam Computer Services Ltd have “more or less” completed their job and would soon file two new supplementary charge-sheets against the key accused in India’s biggest corporate swindle.
Letters rogatory: Satyam founder B. Ramalinga Raju (right) being taken into custody in Hyderabad on 18 January 2009. CBI has sought help from various countries in tracing the diversion of funds from the firm. Mahesh Kumar A / AP
“We are now focusing our probe on diversion of funds by the key accused from their company and evasion of income tax by them,” said V.V. Lakshmi Narayana, deputy inspector general of police of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and head of the multidisciplinary investigation team probing the case.
India’s premier investigation team filed the main chargesheet against the accused on 7 April, within 90 days from the date Satyam founder and former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju confessed to cooking accounts to the tune of Rs7,136 crore over several years.
The investigators subsequently filed a supplementary chargesheet on 24 November.
Besides Ramalinga Raju, the key accused are his brother and former managing director B. Rama Raju, former chief financial officer Srinivas Vadlamani, and S. Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri, former partners at Satyam auditor PriceWaterhouse. All five are in jail.
The charges against them include criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, cheating, forgery and falsification of accounts.
Narayana also said CBI has despatched letters rogatory (LRs) to various countries seeking help in tracing the diversion of funds from Satyam. “CBI’s Interpol wing is actively interacting with its counterparts in these countries and we are currently awaiting responses to these LRs.”
A letter rogatory is a formal request from one country to another sent through diplomatic channels that seeks judicial assistance for gathering evidence in investigations.
“The charges slapped against the accused can be proved with the evidences gathered already,” Narayana said. “It is only additional evidence that is expected through LRs.”
The investigators did not confine their probe to the contents of Ramalinga Raju’s confession letter alone, though it helped set the initial direction for its probe.
“Our probe went much beyond the confession letter,” Narayana said. “Ramalinga Raju never talked of offloading of shares or pledging of shares to raise money and did not say anything in his confession letter on the properties he acquired through these funds.”
CBI has been pushing for an early trial of the case through an exclusive court and having obtained approval of the Andhra Pradesh high court, it now hopes the infrastructure for the special court will be ready by the end of this month to start the trail.
“In a way, the preliminary trial has already commenced at the CBI court at Nampally in Hyderabad in the form of serving documents to the accused and framing of charges against them,” the investigator said.
The CBI official said the agency had exchanged information with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US regulator of stock markets, on the probe. He also said the CBI team was mandated to come up with detailed recommendations on systemic improvements to be adopted by various departments in the country connected to corporate governance.
“We were asked to suggest some long-term measures towards systemic improvements based on the examination of loopholes that the key accused in the Satyam accounting fraud exploited for years,” he said. “The idea is to build an early warning mechanism and see that such scams do not recur.”