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A file photo of Ramalinga Raju. Photo: AFP
A file photo of Ramalinga Raju. Photo: AFP

Ramalinga Raju challenges Satyam fraud case verdict

The appeal was filed in a sessions court to 'question the very finding of the case'

Hyderabad: Satyam Computer Services Ltd’s founder B. Ramalinga Raju, who was found guilty in an accounting fraud case and sentenced to seven years in jail, filed an appeal on Monday challenging the verdict by a special court last week.

The appeal petition was filed before the metropolitan sessions court in Hyderabad by Raju and others, three court officials and two defence lawyers said.

“We are challenging the entire case under (Section) 374 (of Code of Criminal Procedure)," Ramakrishna Raju, a lawyer on Raju’s defence team, said on the phone.

“Pending the appeal, we are asking for suspension of sentence, which includes both conviction and the fine," Ramakrishna Raju said. “That’s the standard procedure."

Of the 10 found guilty in the fraud case, two—former chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas and former head of internal audit V.S. Prabhakara Gupta—are yet to file their appeal petitions because their lawyers were still poring over the 971-page judgement, defence lawyers said.

They are expected to file their applications on 15 April, according to Ramakrishna Raju.

Talluri Srinivas, the former auditor at PriceWaterhouse India, Satyam’s external auditor when the crime took place, had filed an appeal petition on Friday, the day after he was sentenced, but metropolitan sessions judge T. Rajani returned his application on the grounds that the sessions court did not have the mandate to hear the petition challenging the special court’s verdict.

Defence lawyers representing the eight accused who filed appeals argued otherwise, when the matter came up for hearing on Monday. “Our case is that anything less than seven years (imprisonment) lies in this court," lawyer Ramakrishna Raju said.

“The court posted the matter for 15 April for maintainability of the application," the second lawyer added.

Maintainability of the petition determines whether the case should be admitted to the sessions court or to the high court, a court official explained.

The special court on 9 April handed Raju and nine others seven years of rigorous imprisonment, bringing to closure the six-year-old case that shook corporate India on 7 January 2009. The court also fined Raju and his brother B. Rama Raju up to 5.5 crore while the fine for other convicts varied from 27 lakh to 33 lakh.

Raju and others are currently lodged at Cherlapally central jail, 28km from Hyderabad.

The special court, formed exclusively to hear cases pertaining to the Satyam fraud, found Raju and others guilty of conspiring and cheating the firm’s shareholders by overstating revenue and profit over several years—making it the country’s biggest accounting scam to the tune of 7,136 crore.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the case, estimated the loss to Satyam shareholders at 14,000 crore.

Raju has also been found guilty in two separate cases filed by Serious Fraud Investigation Office and capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India.

The Enforcement Directorate, which investigates foreign exchange violations, has filed a chargesheet against Raju and 212 individuals besides 166 firms under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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