Bulk of fast-track proceedings completed, with defence cooperating in avoiding delays; court examination of accused & rival arguments remain
The verdict on the high-profile accounting fraud case at the erstwhile Satyam Computer Services is likely to be delivered in the near future, most probably before the end of this year.
The prosecution evidence in the country’s biggest corporate fraud case, filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has been completed. The agency estimates it to have been a Rs 14,000-crore scam.
The additional chief metropolitan magistrate’s court here is exclusively trying the Satyam case. Th evidence of the accused has been recorded. From Monday, the court would be examining them under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Thereafter, it is left for the defense counsel to introduce any witnesses on behalf of the accused. If the defense does not choose to, the court will put the case for arguments. These, by the rival counsels, are expected to last at the most for three months. Following this, the judge could take some time to prepare and deliver his verdict.(SATYAM SAGA)
Given the magnitude of the case, experts say, the progress of the trial has been remarkably fast. They note, by comparison, that there had been no significant progress with regard to the cases filed against the founder of Satyam by the enforcement directorate, the registrar of companies and the income tax department. The ACMM’s court began the trial on November 8, 2010, on a daily basis, and has so far examined 226 witnesses produced by the prosecution. CBI, which filed its first chargesheet in April 2009, initially introduced 691 witnesses. Later, it withdrew many.
The former dean of the Indian School of Business, M Rammohan Rao, and the former director of IIT, Delhi, V S Raju, who have been on the Satyam board as independent directors, were among those who deposed.
In all, CBI had filed three chargesheets and had cited nine persons as accused. They included Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju; his brother and former managing director, B Rama Raju; and former chief financial officer, V Srinivas. Others accused are B Suryanarayana Raju, also a brother of Ramalinga Raju, who had been a director in 75 of the 327 companies floated by the Raju brothers; Price Waterhouse partners, S Gopala Krishnan and T Srinivas, who audited the Satyam accounts; G Ramakrishna, former vice-president (finance); D Venkatapathi Raju, former senior manager (finance); and S Chetkuru, former assistant manager (finance).
They were charged under the penal code sections on criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, (cheating), (forgery), (forgery for cheating) and using forged documents as genuine ones. All sections, bar the one on forgery, attract imprisonment from three to 10 years. The court can impose life imprisonment for forgery.
Those familiar with the developments say the nine accused, who were out on bail, never sought adjournments and cooperated with the prosecution in facilitating speedy completion of the trial. Ramalinga Raju and Rama Raju were granted bail on November 4, 2011, and the remaining seven got bail on October 12, 2011.
A six-member team of lawyers are representing the accused in the court, while the CBI counsel comprises three advocates.
In line with the conditions imposed while granting bail, on every working day, all the accused, except Ramalinga Raju, sat through the proceedings from morning to evening. The Satyam founder alone was exempted, allowed to go home after marking his attendance. Sources said Ramalinga Raju and V Srinivas are still working together and their relationship as an employer and employee continues. Raju’s kin are said to be now engaged in mining and commercial activities abroad, mostly in Asia, Africa and South America. Raju is said to be guiding them.