Flaying Sebi for delaying probe “only for a trivial issue”, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked it to expedite inquiry within six months against audit firm Pricewaterhouse in the Rs 7,000-crore Satyam Computer Services scam.
Sebi is investigating the role of the auditing firm that was the external auditor for the scam-tainted company between 2000 and 2008. Two senior partners—S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri—had certified Satyam’s audit reports in that period.
A bench led by Chief Justice JS Khehar while asking Sebi whole-time member to “dispose of the case within six months” said that the market regulator has wasted seven years for a “trivial issue…this is a complicated matter and you have further complicated it.”
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“The trial that began in 2010 is still going on. You (Sebi) are following a trend that every order must be challenged only because there’s some bigger court you can go to,” the court said in an oral observation.
However, the apex court clarified that Sebi will furnish copies of those statements and documents, which it is relying on, collected during the inquiry for inspection by Price Waterhouse, the Indian arm of global professional services firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Sebi had relied on the statements of Raju and the other accused to issue show-cause notices to Price Waterhouse asking them why they should not be debarred from carrying out auditing work for listed companies for a particular period. It had alleged that the audit firm had not properly audited the financial statements of Satyam (now Mahindra Satyam) and the financial statements presented did not provide a fair and accurate financial position of Satyam, which Raju has admitted were manipulated and false.
Price Waterhouse had then moved the SAT as Sebi had rejected its request to allow access to documents and to those accused in the fraud case, which rattled India Inc in 2009.