The SEBI decision in the multi-crore Satyam Scam has come, and it has found auditor major Price Waterhouse guilty and barred its network entities from issuing audit certificates to any listed company in India for two years. The market regulator’s order comes after nine years post the scam at Satyam Computer Services, while there were two failed attempts by Price Waterhouse to settle the case through consent mechanism.
This is also one of the most stringent orders passed by any regulator against a Big Four audit major. Here is the list of companies under auditor major Price Waterhouse (PW), which have been barred by the market regulator SEBI:
- Price Waterhouse, Bangalore
- Price Waterhouse & Co., Bangalore
- Price Waterhouse & Co. Kolkata
- Lovelock and Lewes, Hyderabad
- Lovelock and Lewes, Mumbai
- Price Waterhouse, Kolkata
- Price Waterhouse, New Delhi
- Price Waterhouse & Co., Chennai
- Price Waterhouse & Co., New Delhi
- Dalal & Shah, Ahmedabad
- Dalal & Shah, Mumbai
Price Waterhouse, Bangalore’s two erstwhile partners — S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri — have been directed to jointly and severally disgorge the wrongful gains of “Rs 13,09,01,664 with interest calculated at the rate of 12% per annum from January 7, 2009, till the date of payment”. They have to pay the amount within 45 days.
However, PricewaterhouseCoopers network’s other entities in India, which provide services other than auditing such as tax advisory, corporate advisory and consultancy, will not be directly affected by the SEBI order. These firms offer services under the entities including PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt Ltd, PricewaterhouseCoopers Service Delivery Center, PRTM Management Consultants (India) Private Limited and PricewaterhouseCoopers India LLP. They operate in multiple cities of India.
While barring companies under the Price Waterhouse network, SEBI said, “The network structure of operations adopted by the international accounting firm should not be used as a shield to avoid legal implications arising out of the certifications issued under the brand name of the network.”
The Satyam scandal was a Rs 7,000-crore corporate scandal in which chairman Ramalinga Raju confessed that the company’s accounts had been falsified. On January 7, 2009, Ramalinga Raju sent off an email to Sebi and stock exchanges, wherein he admitted and confessed to inflating the cash and bank balances of the company.
According to SEBI, PW firms have benefited from the relationship from Satyam Computer Services by having collectively received a fee of over Rs 23 crore during 2000-2008 period. Out of this amount, over Rs 13 crore was paid towards PW Bangalore for the audit of Satyam Computer Services as submitted by it, the regulator added.