Third day of questioning for Satyam’s Raju

January 20th, 2009 - 8:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Jan 20 (IANS) Investigators quizzed disgraced founder and former chairman of Satyam Computer Services B. Ramalinga Raju and two other former top executives of the company for the third day Tuesday in connection with the Rs.70 billion (Rs.7,000 crores/$1.43 billion) fraud. Ramalinga Raju, his brother and former managing director B. Rama Raju, and former chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas were being questioned by officials of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh Police.

“We are continuing our interrogation,” said a top CID official but declined to say anything about the outcome so far.

The CID started questioning the accused on Sunday at the office in Masab Tank here, a day after a court remanded them to police custody for four days.

CID sources said the investigators were trying to ascertain the veracity of Ramalinga Raju’s Jan 7 statement in which he admitted to the fraud. They were trying to find out if the huge cash and bank balances did not exist, as he claimed, or whether he had diverted the money to real estate companies owned by his family members.

The Raju brothers and the former CFO were also being questioned about the properties and lands they were holding and the role played by other directors and company officials in the massive fraud.

Further investigations depend on what the Satyam founder tells the CID sleuths. During the interrogation after his arrest Jan 9, he had only reiterated what he had stated in his resignation letter to the board of directors.

Meanwhile, the CID has created an e-mail ID satyamfraud@cid.appolice.gov.in to seek information on the fraud. CID officials said anybody with information about the fraud can send the same to the mail ID.

The CID would be looking to gather more evidence against the accused to build up a strong case against them. Their bail plea comes up for hearing Jan 22, while their judicial custody lapses Jan 23.

The court on Jan 22 will also pronounce its orders on the petition of market regulator Securities and Exchanges Board of India (SEBI), seeking permission to question the accused.

Though it is two weeks since the massive fraud shocked the corporate world, SEBI or other regulatory agencies have not been able to quiz Ramalinga Raju.

SEBI had served summons on Raju Jan 9 and his lawyer had told SEBI that he would appear the next day. However, a couple of hours later the Raju brothers surrendered before the CID, denying SEBI an opportunity to question them.

SEBI counsel has already alleged that that Raju was trying to avoid grilling by the market watchdog.

Meanwhile, the Registrar of Companies (ROC) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) are continuing their probe into the fraud. The officials of the two agencies exchanged documents seized from Satyam offices during the last few days.

SFIO is also looking into the alleged transfer of Satyam money to Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties, owned by Ramalinga Raju’s son. The agency with the help of ROC is looking into the records of both the companies, which allegedly received Satyam money to buy prime lands in Hyderabad and other towns.

The central government Monday extended the probe into the Satyam fraud to cover both the companies. Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta announced in Delhi that SFIO would look into the books and records of Maytas.

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