Finally, founder of Satyam Ramalinga Raju found guilty in India’s largest corporate scandal. It is important to mention here that, the scam broke out following the confessional statement by Ramalinga Raju on January 7 of 2009. Initially, the investigation was handled by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the State Government which affected the initial arrest of the accused. The case was transferred to the CBI within a couple of months. The agency constituted a multi-disciplinary investigation team with financial and other experts and filed three chargesheets. It also sent letters to six countries seeking information on company transactions. The special court was constituted in 2010 to exclusively deal with the Satyam cases though they were tried by a regular Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate prior to that. The CBI had produced 226 witnesses and voluminous documents to the court as part of prosecution. The court had marked 3,187 documents as objects of evidence.
Ramalinga Raju’s letter-bomb on unsuspecting investors, employees and the government confessing to a Rs.7,136-crore fraud committed by him and his close circle of relatives and employees at the company took all by surprise. The revelation sent shockwaves across the market and Satyam shareholders lost more than Rs.14,000 crore collectively as the market — rightly — took the share to the clean. All the 10 accused in the multi-crore Satyam Computers account fraud, including him were found guilty by a Special Court.
This is a classic case of ‘Under Trail’. For the last 6 years, Raju has been languishing in jail and succumbed to tortures from various facets of life. It’s high time to revamp the judicial system in India. The need to expedite the verdict should be adapted else fast track courts need to be established to deal with the same. There are many accused ‘under trial’ from many years and courts have failed to pass the verdict.
As a saying goes, those who are caught are thieves and those roaming scot free are gentlemen. Everybody has a pie in this. It’s a scam of Rs. 14,000/- crores of public money. To discourage such incidents in future, the punishment should be given as life term with rigorous imprisonment and confiscate all the assets of the convicted persons involved (including all those master minds that are yet to be remotely booked), return the money to the investors. Raju was adorned by everyone when the company was at its peak. Now, when he had fallen people are using negative adjectives for him. The grapevine in Hyderabad feels that he had invested heavily into land deals at behest of Late YSR Reddy and bought the benami and Poramboku Government lands.
For sure, Raju has committed a major scam. However, we should not ignore the role of the banks. It is not such that Satyam is the company; there are many other IT companies in Hyderabad that have used the same modus operandi. The auditors, valuers, lawyers, banking personnel, SEZ authorities, all played a role in the scam. The court has given the verdict in three cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation since April 2009. The CBI had produced 226 witnesses and voluminous documents to the court as part of prosecution. The court had marked 3,187 documents as objects of evidence.
The court was constituted in 2010 to exclusively deal with the Satyam cases though they were tried by a regular Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate prior to that.
There is no mention why the Auditors were not able to detect the fraud on their part. Was it technically difficult? It looks quite strange in view of the basic nature of the fraud through manipulation of Bank Reconciliation Statement, periodical Bank Statements and company invoices and so on.
The fact is that, this scandal is faded from the public memory. We should keep in mind that they can appeal in Hyderabad High Court which may again take years for regular listing even.
Comparing the Satyam with the similar cases happened in other countries fraud, we find the U.S. Bernie Madoff, who made off with $65 billion of investor money was handed out a 150-year jail sentence in June 2009, within three months of the scandal coming to light. The assets he had accumulated were sold off to repay at least a part of what he owed investors. Jeffrey Skilling, former president of Enron was convicted to 24 years in jail in 2006, soon after the scandal surfaced. Lengthy judicial procedure has taken six years and it may continue in the future too. Why did judiciary allow the guilty to adopt delaying tactics for so long?