Monday, January 26, 2009

Satyam's Rs 5,000cr cash disappeared in a quarter

Bank statements show that Satyam had funds of over Rs 5,000 crore as of September 2008, but by January 2009 when company founder
Ramalinga Raju admitted to fudging accounts the IT firm could have been left with just Rs 200 crore of maturable fixed deposits.

The scam-tainted firm had short-term or long-term fixed deposits of over Rs 3,300 crore, and another Rs 300 crore of accrued interest, in addition to current account deposits of over Rs 1,800 crore, as per the last auditing done by Price WaterHouse for the quarter ending September 2008.

The company is believed not to have made any term deposit after mid-February 2007, though it did make a few short-term or margin money deposits, amounting to about Rs 10 crore till September 2008.

The auditing was done on the basis of statements sent by a host of banks detailing the fixed long-term deposits, along with maturity, ranging between October 2008 and February 2009.

With such a cash and deposits position, the IT company should not have had any worry on the cash front and a concern to mobilise resources for the payment of salaries to staff.

In his statement on January 7, Raju had said that he was disclosing the manipulation of accounts after failing in his last-ditch effort to salvage Satyam through acquisition of the two Maytas firms on December 16.

However, the bank statements, on which PWC relied for the auditing, reveal that more than 90% of the total deposits had matured by January 7.

Price WaterHouse, whose two top officials were arrested by Andhra Pradesh Police yesterday, is understood to have prepared its defence on the basis of these documents, besides foreign exchange earnings and receivables of Satyam, as per the export clearance documents of Software Technology Parks of India.

According to the available information pertaining to deposits of the company, Satyam had a total long-term deposits of over Rs 3,300 crore for maturity during the October- February period, while its short-term deposits to mature till October 2011 were about Rs 10 crore.

According to the statements, deposits were largely held with HDFC Bank, HSBC, ICICI Bank, BNP Paribas and Citibank, while the current accounts were mostly with Bank of Baroda.

PW officials are understood to have given these documents to probing agencies to make clear their role while maintaining that they had gone by the book for the purpose of auditing.

While no comments could be obtained from PW on the details of the bank deposits and cash position with the company, sources in the know said that it would be impossible to forge all the bank statements that were addressed to the auditor but procured by the Satyam management for auditing.

After arrest of its two partners yesterday, the auditing firm said it has fully cooperated over the last fortnight in all inquiries and "has provided all the documents called for by the Indian authorities" and promised continued cooperation.

"We greatly regret that two Price WaterHouse partners have been detained today for further questioning. We do not know the basis for them being detained," said a statement from Price Waterhouse, the statutory auditors of Satyam Computer.

PW's Chief Relationship Partner S Gopalakrishnan and Engagement Leader Srinivas Talluri are now in judicial custody pending investigation.

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