Fraud-hit Satyam gets three new board members (Lead)

January 11th, 2009 - 4:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Ramalinga RajuNew Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) Three new board members were named Sunday to bring back financial order to the fraud-hit Satyam Computer Services and restore employee, investor and clients confidence into the IT firm’s future operations.The new board comprises former chief of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) Kiran Karnik, chairman of Housing Development Finance Corp Deepak Parikh and former member of markets watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) C. Achuthan.

“We will ensure that Satyam continues to function in the best interests of the company and its shareholders,” Corporate Affairs Minister Premchand Gupta told reporters here, announcing the names of the new board members.

“The new board will meet in next 24 hours,” the minister said, a day after the company’s founder-chairman B. Ramalinga Raju and his brother Rama Raju surrendered before the authorities for financial fraud and were remanded to judicial custody till Jan 23.

“Having considered all aspects, the government has decided to reconstitute the Satyam board with experts in different fields,” Gupta said. “Such a board will provide necessary vision and accountable leadership to the company in the hour of crisis.”

In a development that jolted corporate India and raised questions about the level of corporate governance in the country, the Satyam chairman had admitted to perpetrating a Rs.70-billion ($1.4 billion) fraud on the company.

Gupta said the reconstituted board will make its own assessment of the situation and take appropriate decisions. “It would restore credibility to the company, customer confidence and boost employee morale.”

The minister had briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Saturday to discuss the developments surrounding Satyam, including the names of those proposed to become board members of the Hyderabad-based company, officials said.

The government had sacked all members of the Satyam board Friday. Officials said the prime minister wanted a credible management at its helm so as to instil the necessary confidence among various stakeholders.

“This is not only a welcome step but also a speedy decision. The government must be congratulated for prompt action which was the need of the hour,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“All three people named are leaders in their respective field - one knows the IT industry inside out, the second is an expert regulator and chartered accountant, and the third has phenomenal understanding of corporate governance,” Banerjee told IANS, referring to Karnik, Achuthan and Parikh, respectively.

“I am sure the government will consider more such people,” he added.

“We are confident that this will help to ensure business continuity, build confidence and protect the interests of all the stakeholders - the employees, customers and investors” said Mr. Som Mittal, president of Nasscom.

Officials familiar with the developments said that the markets regulator would soon seek permission from the Sixth Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate D. Ramakrishna who has the Satyam brass under custody to record their statements.

SEBI chairman C.B. Bhave met Minister Gupta Saturday to discuss the ongoing investigation into the scam. Senior officials of the markets watchdog have been checking the firm’s books of accounts since Thursday.

Auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that had certified the accounts of the company as “true and fair” is also under scrutiny, officials said.

A top functionary of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) had also said in Chennai Saturday that the auditing firm was bound to disclose all the facts and could not hide under the client confidentiality clause.

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