1. Lost empire: The fall and fall of Ramalinga Raju, the gentleman

Lost empire: The fall and fall of Ramalinga Raju, the gentleman

Ramalinga Raju's shocking confession on the morning of January 7, 2009, which unravelled India's biggest corporate accounting scandal...

By: | Hyderabad | Updated: April 10, 2015 5:11 AM

Ramalinga Raju’s shocking confession on the morning of January 7, 2009, which unravelled India’s biggest corporate accounting scandal, had come from a man who, by his own admission, “was riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”.

However, on Thursday, when the 60-year-old appeared at the Hyderabad special CBI court, he appeared calm and collected, notwithstanding that he was about to hear out his punishment in the Rs 7,000-crore accounting fraud. One could see that the wrinkles on his forehead — despite languishing in jail for over two years — had reduced.

What happened in the six years between these two events is a story of the fall from grace of a poster boy of India’s IT revolution — a man who played big brother to Hyderabad’s software industry and who once also shared a dais with then US President, Bill Clinton, when he visited Hyderabad in 2000.

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He also had the necessary trappings to go with it. Raju got his MBA from the Ohio University and attended  Harvard. That was the time when the career graph of Satyam was skyrocketing, and its success had put Hyderabad on the global IT map.

Raju — now sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of Rs 5 crore — after being convicted of offenses like cheating, criminal conspiracy, forgery and breach of trust — made his big mistake when he went on a land-buying spree.

As Satyam’s cash and books became overstated, he made a last-ditch attempt to save the IT firm by acquiring Maytas, which held the land assets. The proposal, which infuriated investors, unravelled a tangle that required about 226 prosecution witnesses to be examined and 3,137 documents verified over a six year trial.

The key accused in the Satyam scam were Raju and eight members of his team, including the company’s former managing director, B Rama Raju and former chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas. Former PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors S Gopalakrishnan and Talluri Srinivas were also accused in the case. All of them have been convicted under sections that cover criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery of valuable security, forgery for cheating, using forged documents as genuine and falsification of accounts.

The demise of Raju’s empire, which he built up from 1987, was swift after his confession about the accounting fraud. Now, aged 60, he is headed to Cherlapally jail as his clemency plea was rejected by the court. An appeal for bail, however, is still an option for Ramalinga Raju, who enjoys a great deal of sympathy among the techies in Hyderabad for being the man who gave wings to middle-class dreams in the city.

Tough going
* Raju had the necessary trappings for brilliance. He got his MBA from the Ohio University and attended  Harvard. That was the time when Satyam’s career graph was skyrocketing
* Raju — now sentenced to seven years in prison and a fine of R5 crore — after being convicted of offenses like cheating, criminal conspiracy, forgery and breach of trust — made his big mistake when he went on a land-buying spree
* As Satyam’s books became overstated, he made a last-ditch attempt to save the IT firm by acquiring Maytas, which held the land assets. The proposal unravelled a tangle that required 226 prosecution witnesses to be examined and 3,137 documents verified over six years

Tags: Satyam Scam
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