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'Satyam has 13,000 ghost employees'

BS Reporter  |  Hyderabad 

FDs also fake, prosecutors tell court.

Contrary to the claims of former Satyam Computer Services Chairman B Ramalinga Raju that there were 53,000 associates in the company, only 40,000 exist on the rolls. Raju made this confession to the Andhra government's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) during the four-day police custody, which ended today, public prosecutors Ajay Kumar and Gangaraju Prasad told the Nampally court today.

The prosecutors made these disclosures as part of their request to the court to extend police custody of Raju brothers and former chief financial officer Srinivas Vadlamani by two days. The court, however, extended custody by a day.

Raju also admitted to fudging accounts, manipulating records, transferring shares and conducting of fraudulent transactions in other people's names (benami transactions), according to the public prosecutors.

They added that the four days given for custodial interrogation was not enough as some time was lost for breakfast, lunch and medical examinations of the accused. As a result, the interrogation — monitored by a closed circuit TV — remained inconclusive, which is why they needed an extension of custody.

The prosecutors said the accused have admitted to at least 400 benami transactions, apart from floating in fictitious names. They added that Ramalinga Raju admitted to having transferred shares to his brother Suryanarayana Raju and mother Appalanarsamma. The company's fixed deposits of Rs 3,300 crore, too, were fictitious.

Overall, the prosecutors said, the accused had also diverted Rs 20 crore a month for five years.

However, the big question — where the money had gone — remained unanswered. The prosecutors also did not rule out insider trading. Also, the accused had bought hundreds of acres of land, another possible pointer to where the money siphoned out of Satyam could have been diverted. The police was also gathering details on Akula Rajaiah, who allegedly brokered land deals between Ramalinga Raju and villagers.

The accused were also likely to have been behind a forged HDFC Bank statement, the public prosecutors submitted before the judge. HDFC Bank’s Basheerbagh branch had clarified to the police that it had not issued any statement to Satyam. The CID now needed to establish who forged the bank letter, the public prosecutors said, adding that the CID has written to six other banks to provide details of Satyam transactions, and the police was expecting a reply from them shortly.

The CID, the prosecutors noted, has seized some documents, laptops and other evidence but were yet to study these and question the accused on them.

Meanwhile, on the public prosecutors’ statement that HDFC Bank’s statement was forged, advocate Bharath Kumar — who represents Ramalinga Raju — admitted that the matter under investigation. He, however, said various agencies like the Registrar of Companies, Sebi, and the CID seized related documents and computers on January 11 but the police has not made any effort to call the documents from them to confront the accused during the interrogation. The defence counsel also denied any connection between land broker Akula Rajaiah and the accused.

The defence counsel said the police interrogated Vadlamani only for an hour everyday during the four-day custody. Searches were also conducted at his house and some documents were seized but the police had not confronted Vadlamani with the evidence. They argued that everything that needed to be seized had been already seized.

“The public prosecutors’ accusations that money has been diverted from Satyam to other businesses of the promoter family was playing to the gallery. They did not take any position on the accusations in the plea for extending the custody,” said Kumar, claiming further that the reports of diversion of funds by Ramalinga Raju “was the work of fiction by the media”.

He added that the police has not questioned Ramalinga Raju and his brother Rama Raju about any diversion of funds or employee strength and that the Raju brothers had not made any admission on these issues.

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First Published: Fri, January 23 2009. 00:00 IST