MUMBAI: Market regulator Sebi on Thursday ordered B Ramalinga Raju and his family, the former promoters of fraud-ridden erstwhile Satyam Computers, to return Rs 1,803 crore of their ill-gotten money plus interest for over six-and-a-half years, which adds up to about Rs 3,200 crore.
Raju, chairman of Satyam Computers till early 2009, and some of his family members have also been banned from the market for seven years, a Sebi order said. Thursday’s order was issued as a rejoinder to Sebi’s own order of July 15, 2014.
The Raju family had fudged the books at Satyam, then one of the top five IT services companies in India, for eight years till he sent a mail to Sebi and stock exchanges, admitting to the corporate and accounting frauds on January 7, 2009.
Subsequent investigations revealed that directors and employees of Satyam, including its chairman, MD and CFO, had since January 2001 “connived and collaborated in overstatements, fabrication, falsification and misrepresentation of books of account and financial statements of Satyam Computers”, the Sebi order said. The regulator found that the Rajus and their associates fudged the company’s accounts to “paint a rosy picture”, which helped maintain a healthy share price for Satyam. They then used unpublished price-sensitive information to sell those shares at a high price to make profits, Sebi said.
Investigations also found that there were several off-market deals between the promoters and group companies, including listed entity Maytas Infra, for illegal market gains. Sebi has now ordered the Rajus to disgorge all their ill-gotten profits along with a simple interest at 12% per annum since January 7, 2009 till the day of payment. Sebi has said that Maytas Infra, which was a Satyam Computers subsidiary and has since been taken over by IL&FS and renamed IL&FS Engineering & Construction (IECCL), has to return Rs 59.2 crore, plus the interest due.
The Raju family is not a promoter of IECCL anymore and, hence, the current promoters and managers are not liable to pay any fine. However, The regulator also said that since IL&FS Engineering & Construction in its former avatar as Maytas Infra had made unlawful gains, which still remain with the company under the new management, those gains should be returned.
After the fraud had come to light at Satyam in 2009, the government took over the management from the Rajus, cleaned it up after forensic audits and put it up for auction. Tech Mahindra, an M&M group company, then acquired the company and later merged it with itself.