Report: Indian Gov't Says Satyam May Have Diverted Funds

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The Indian government is reportedly veering towards the view that funds may have been siphoned out of financially-troubled Indian outsourcer Satyam Computer Services.

Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta told the Press Trust of India on Sunday that funds appeared to have been diverted from Satyam.

Satyam's founder B. Ramalinga Raju resigned from the company earlier this month, after stating that the company had inflated profits for several years.

For the quarter ended September 30, for example, Satyam reported revenue of 27 billion Indian rupees (US$570 million) and an operating margin of 6.5 billion rupees, as against actual revenue of 21.12 billion rupees and profits of 610 million rupees, Raju said.

The disclosure by Raju prompted speculation by some analysts and the media that the company had made profits, but these had been subsequently siphoned out of the company's accounts. They claimed Raju's statement that the profits had been overstated were designed to divert attention from the siphoning off of the funds.

Investigators looking into the fraud have found a "maze" of about 300 companies related to Raju that were used to "siphon" as much as $1 billion in cash from Satyam, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The report quoted a senior official involved in the inquiry, who was granted anonymity to discuss developments in the case.

A Satyam spokeswoman declined to comment on the reports.

The company's new board, appointed by the government, announced last week that two accounting firms, KPMG and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu would help it restate accounts to arrive at an accurate picture of the finances of the company.

Satyam's auditors Price Waterhouse, a unit of PricewaterhouseCoopers, also said last week that its audit opinion should not longer be relied upon, as it was based on financial statements that Raju had said were inaccurate for successive years.

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