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Two Price Waterhouse auditors held

N. Rahul

HYDERABAD: Two partners of Price Waterhouse, statutory auditors of Satyam Computer Services, were arrested by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of the Andhra Pradesh police on Saturday on charges of conspiracy, failure to scrutinise records and connivance.

S. Gopalakrishnan and his deputy, Talluri Srinivas, had signed Satyam’s annual statements of accounts without performing their statutory duties as external auditors, a senior CID official told The Hindu.

Citing a specific charge, he said they had accepted forged fixed deposit receipts and particulars of balances furnished by the company without any verification with bankers.

Prosecutors informed the court in the last few days that BNP Paribas had denied holding fixed deposits of Satyam that were reflected in the company’s accounts. Earlier, HDFC, Basheerbagh branch, said it had no documents which were on the auditors’ files.

The official said the audit firm was paid an annual fee of Rs. 5 crore compared to a maximum of Rs. 2 crore incurred for the same job by other IT majors.

With the arrest of the two auditors, the number of persons held in the Satyam fraud has gone up to six.

During the arrest of the two auditors, the CID recovered several documents from the office of Price Waterhouse at the Madhapur Hi-Tech City here. It also summoned several middle-level managers of Satyam to the office of the Director-General of Police for questioning. The investigating agency is sharing information with the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which has seized documents of Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties — companies run by the sons of the former Satyam chief, Ramalinga Raju.

The SFIO found a mismatch between the trial balance (the balance in the account after a transaction) and what was claimed by Satyam in the current account number 00120559, New York branch of the Bank of Baroda. The difference was Rs. 1,733 crore.

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