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SFIO to probe 325 firms

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Kiran Karnik

Karnik is Satyam chairman.

The government today expanded the probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to 325 companies and 25 individuals related to Satyam Computer Services and other companies of Ramalinga Raju.

The special investigating arm of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is already looking into the accounts of Satyam and of two Maytas companies run by Raju’s two sons.

“SFIO would look into the linkages between all these companies and all the individuals and their role in the Rs 7,000-crore fraud and other related issues,” said Prem Chand Gupta, minister for corporate affairs, during a media briefing.

Kiran Karnik, president of Nasscom and a government nominee on the board of Satyam, has been appointed as the chairman of the board. The minister refused to say if this appointment was a government decision or if it was decided by the board.

The decision comes a day after the board decided to appoint A S Murty, a Satyam veteran of 15 years, as the chief executive officer (CEO). When asked about Murty selling Satyam shares days before the information technology company proposed to acquire the two Maytas companies on December 16 last year, Gupta said: “There are no issues over stake sale by Satyam executives and there is nothing wrong in bulk share sale by the new Satyam CEO. The probe is heading in the right direction and it would take care of the larger interests of the corporate sector,” said Gupta.

SFIO, according to the information provided by MCA, has only 50 officers in its rolls, and is currently handling 48 cases.

These would include both listed and non-listed companies, said Gupta, but declined to give details like the names of the companies. This investigation will be done under Section 240 of the Companies Act, 1956, under which the investigating agency can ask companies to furnish books and papers relevant to or necessary for the investigation. SFIO can also ask individuals related to the affairs of the company to appear before it in person.

The government had initiated an investigation by SFIO into various corporate aspects of the Satyam case on January 13 and given it three months to come out with a report.

First Published: Sat, February 07 2009. 00:29 IST