Hyderabad: A city court on Monday suspended the seven-year prison sentence given to B. Ramalinga Raju, founder of the erstwhile Satyam Computer Services Ltd, a month after he was convicted and jailed by a special court for his role in India’s biggest accounting fraud.

Sessions court judge M. Laxman asked Raju and his brother B. Rama Raju to furnish two sureties of 1 lakh each with a personal bond of 1 lakh, and pay 10% of the fine imposed by a special court within four weeks of their release from jail.

The court also suspended the sentences of the eight other convicts and asked them to furnish two sureties of 50,000 each with a personal bond of 50,000, in addition to 10% of the fine amount within four weeks of release.

To be sure, this is only interim relief for the convicts. The sessions court will continue hearing Raju’s petition challenging the order of the lower court.

If they fail to deposit 10% of the fine before the special court that handed them the sentence, the suspension will stand revoked, judge Laxman ruled on Monday.

The court also asked all the 10 convicts to give an undertaking that they “shall not seek undue adjournment" during future hearings.

The fraud surfaced in January 2009 when Ramalinga Raju admitted in a letter to the company’s board and stock exchanges to have inflated revenue and profit over several years in an accounting fraud to the tune of 7,136 crore; he retracted the confession in the course of the trial. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) subsequently estimated the amount at 14,000 crore.

Satyam was acquired by Tech Mahindra Ltd in an auction overseen by the government within months of Raju’s confession and renamed Mahindra Satyam.

The CBI, which successfully prosecuted Raju and others in the trial court, is yet to make up its mind on whether it will appeal against the suspension order.

“We have to go through the order first and then take a call," CBI special prosecutor K. Surender said on the phone.

Following a direction from the Hyderabad high court, Raju and others filed appeal petitions before the sessions court on 4 May, challenging the 9 April judgement, and also sought the suspension of the sentence and fine imposed by the special court.

Raju’s lawyers, however, argued on 7 May that the fines were “exorbitant", and that Raju and others had no means to pay the amount.

E. Uma Maheshwar Rao, Raju’s counsel, sought suspension of the sentence on the grounds that he had already served a “substantial part" of the sentence by spending nearly 31 months in jail, according to a Press Trust of India report.

Raju and some associates have also been found guilty in separate cases filed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

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

Raju and the other convicts are likely to be released from jail on Tuesday after the formalities are completed, a lawyer representing Raju said on condition of anonymity.

All the 10 found guilty are serving a sentence of seven years’ rigorous at a prison on Hyderabad’s outskirts.

The special court convicted them of crimes ranging from cheating and criminal conspiracy to forgery, fudging of accounts and criminal breach of trust and, in addition to the sentence, ordered them to pay fines ranging from 27 lakh to 5.5 crore.

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