Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Satyam bosses sold most shares ahead of scam

SEBI is itching to go into the Satyam probe but all that it can do now is wait - wait for the courts to allow them to interrogate B Ramalinga Raju and gang and wait for police to give them access to the documents.

The SEBI lawyer says this will delay a probe into the truth behind the Satyam episode.

"For each and every document, we have to make an application to the court and take the permission of the court, then go through the papers. Naturally there will be delay investigation," says SEBI lawyer, Pradyumna Kumar Reddy.

SEBI says it is the best equipped to handle a financial accounting fraud involving a listed company.

"SEBI should be given all information first and SEBI should be allowed to probe," says Reddy.

And one of the key areas SEBI will go into is - Did the top management indulge in insider trading? Did they sell shares in bulk?

Ramalinga Raju sold over 14 per cent Satyam shares in the last eight years, bringing his holding down from 22.89 per cent to 8.27 per cent in September 2008.

And Raju was not alone. Network 18 has learnt that as many as 20 people from the Satyam senior management sold shares just before the Maytas deal happened in December 2008.

Among them were Satyam CFO Sriniwas Vadalamani and Board Director Ram Mynampati - who is now the interim CEO of the company.

According to sources, among the top management of the company:

*Srinivas Vadlamani sold 92,538 shares

*Ram Mynampati sold 7 lakh shares and 2.5 lakh American Depository Receipts (ADRs)

*Keshan Mehta 6.1 lakh shares and 1 lakh ADRs

*Pavan Kumar Maddali sold 5.2 lakh shares and 75,000 ADRs

*Manish Mehta sold 30,000 shares

*T Hari sold 13,000 shares

*Independent Director Vinod Dham sold 2,500 shares

Apart from the top management, some 16 senior vice-presidents also sold shares in considerable amounts, raising questions of corporate governance and insider trading. It makes it seem as if everyone in the top echlons of the company had an idea that India's biggest corporate fraud was round the corner.

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