Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CBI files charge sheet in Satyam fraud case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday filed a charge sheet in the Rs.78 billion ($1.56 billion) accounting fraud in Satyam Computer Services Ltd, three months after the company's disgraced founder and former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju admitted to India's biggest corporate scam.

The CBI officials led by Deputy Inspector General Lakshmi Narayana presented the charge sheet against all the nine accused in a special court for CBI cases here.

The 2,315-page charge sheet said Ramalinga Raju and his brother and former managing director of the IT major were the brains behind the scam while seven other accused, including three arrested Sunday, assisted them.

The CBI personnel brought the voluminous charge sheet and thousands of other documents running into 64,500 pages in a mini-truck to Nampally Criminal Court complex and submitted the same to the court of XIV Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S. Samuel Victor Emmanuel.

The documents, CDs and other records were brought in 25 trunk boxes.

"We also have recorded statement of Rajus, their family members and 432 witnesses in the case," Narayana later told reporters.

The charge sheet says Raju brothers were the kingpins and architects of the fudging and faking of balance sheets and also insider trading in the IT bellwether.

Ramalinga Raju has been accused of diverting funds of Satyam to his family firms for buying huge tracts of land, fudging accounts and also showing fake fixed deposits to inflate the profits. He allegedly bought properties and prime lands in benami transactions.

The CBI filed the charge sheet less than two months after it took over the probe from crime branch of Andhra Pradesh police. The multi-disciplinary investigation team of the CBI had grilled Rajus for nine days last month as part of the investigations.

The federal agency, which took up investigations Feb 18, had booked Rajus and other accused for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and falsification of accounts.

Meanwhile, the court has also allowed the CBI to collect samples of specimen signatures and handwriting of the Raju brothers and the former chief financial officer of the company, Srinivas Vadlamani.

The CBI wants to establish the charge of forgery against the accused.

The court posted to Wednesday orders on bail petitions of former auditors of Price Waterhouse S. Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri.

Ramalinga Raju had quit as Satyam chairman Jan 7 while confessing he cooked the company's account books and inflated profits over the past several years.

The Rajus were arrested by Andhra Pradesh police Jan 9. Srinivas was picked up the next day. The former auditors were also arrested the same month.

The CBI Sunday arrested three executives of Satyam's finance wing and the court Monday remanded them to judicial custody till April 15.

G. Ramakrishna, vice-president (finance), D. Venkatapathi Raju, senior manager (finance), and Ch. Srisailam, assistant manager, were arrested on the charge of preparing fake invoices, bank confirmation letters and fixed deposit receipts.

CBI officials said they implemented the mechanism for fraud designed by Ramalinga Raju.

These were the first arrests since the CBI took over the investigations in February.

With this, the number of accused in the case rose to nine. All the accused are currently lodged in Chanchalguda central jail here.

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