Corporate Trust Hammered In India Too

Individuals and teams across scores of corporations in the U.S. ignored the rules of business and economics that helps hold society together, or they re-wrote them for their own short-term self interest.  Societies across earth are all now paying for that behavior in one way or another.

That moral disease was not limited to the U.S. though.

Satyam (Satyam Computer Services Ltd.) is a global high-tech services corporation based in India.  I have bumped into staff and activities of this company from time to time over the last five years.  Their founder and corporate Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju resigned yesterday after releasing a description of financial fraud that he had led or materially participated in over those same five years.  It will result in suffering far beyond the corporation’s shareholders.  It also highlights the need for effective risk governance and risk management.  Mr. Raju could not have carried out financial fraud of this scale alone.  PWC, one of Satyam’s primary auditors, should come under especially thorough review.  The current story, while still evolving, goes something like…

Satyam Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju resigned yesterday admitting to falsifying company accounts and inflating revenue and profit figures over several years.  He had been with the company for more than 20 years.  During that time Satyam grew from a few individuals to 53,000 employees, having 185 of the Fortune 500 companies as customers and operations in 66 countries.  He ended what was a public confession with: “I am now prepared to subject myself to the laws of the land and face the consequences thereof.” [ page 5]

Satyam had:
1. inflated its operating profit for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2008 from 610 million rupees to 6.49 billion rupees ($136 million).
2. revenue was inflated from 21.12 billion rupees to 27 billion rupees.
3. reported an operating margin of 24% which was actually 3%.
4. reported a non-existent cash balance of 50.4 billion rupees.
5. reported a nonexistent accrued interest of 3.76 billion rupees
6. reported an understated liability of 12.3 billion rupees.
7. reported a debtor position of 4.9 billion rupees (compared with 26.51 billion rupees reflected in its books). [ pages 1-3]

“The gap in the Balance Sheet has arisen purely on account of inflated profits over a period of the last several years (limited only to Satyam standalone, books of subsidiaries reflecting true performance).  What started as a marginal gap between actual operating profit and the one reflected on the books of accounts continued to grow over the years.  It has attained unmanageable proportions as the size of the company operations grew significantly (annualized revenue run rate of Rs. 11,276 crore in the September quarter, 2008 and official reserves of Rs. 8,392 crore).  The differential in the real profits and the one reflected in the books was further accentuated by the fact that the company had to carry additional resources and assets to justify higher level of operations — thereby significantly increasing the costs.” [ page 2] {“crore” refers to ten million, and is a unit in the Indian numbering system}

“Every attempt made to eliminate the gap failed.  As the promoters held a small percentage of equity, the concern was that poor performance would result in a take-over, thereby exposing the gap.  It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without getting eaten.” [ page 2]

Mr. Raju Recommended:
…quickly explore some merger opportunities.
…restatement of accounts.
[ page 4]

— References —
Yahoo blog:
WSJ Article:
Raw Documents:

The Hindu:
Satyam plunges to all-time low.
Raju quits Satyam; admits to financial wrong-doings.
Stocks Tumble.
Satyam plunges to all-time low; down nearly 70 pc.
Satyam irregularities referred to serious fraud probe agency .
Satyam case not to impact economy: Plan panel


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