The firm had fraudulently induced a company, Venture Global Engineering, into a partnership
Nearly five years after India’s biggest corporate scam broke out at erstwhile Satyam Computer, a U.S. court has ordered fresh proceedings into charges that the firm had fraudulently induced a company, Venture Global Engineering (VGE), into a partnership.
Satyam, whose founder and then Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju, had admitted in January, 2009, a long-running fraud at the company, was later acquired by Tech Mahindra, and its entire business was integrated with the new owner earlier this year.
The latest ruling by a U.S. Appeals Court follows an earlier direction issued by a Districts Court of Michigan, which had dismissed claims made by VGE against Satyam with regard to a joint venture.
In its order dated September 13, the Appeals Court has reversed the judgment of the district court, and has ordered further proceedings into the matter.
In its appeal, VGE and the Larry J Winget Living Trust alleged that Satyam Computer Services ‘induced’ them to form a joint venture by “misrepresenting its financial stability and general suitability as a business partner.”
Satyam had argued that VGE should have brought its claims during an arbitration proceeding in 2005. The arbitrator had ruled that all of VGE’s ownership interest in the 50:50 joint venture — Satyam Venture Engineering Services (SVES) — be transferred to Satyam. VGE had complied with the order at that time.
After Mr. Raju confessed to a fraud in a letter to investors in 2009, VGE in December, 2010, filed an ‘instant action’ case, alleging that Satyam was engaged in a massive fraud even before the joint venture started. “We hold that because plaintiffs’ (VGE and the Trust) complaint adequately alleges that Satyam wrongfully concealed the factual predicate to plaintiffs’ claims, the defence of claim preclusion does not apply.
“Thus, the district court erred in granting defendants’ (Satyam) motion to dismiss. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of the district court, and remand for further proceedings,” the U.S. States Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit ruled.