E Kumar Sharma, associate editor, Business Today
The six-year-old Satyam financial fraud case, which has been in the public eye since January 2009, has seen different questions bring raised at each stage of the trial process.
- Are we more keen to jail than to bail? This was a question that some India Inc leaders would raise when the Raju brothers and eight others served their jail terms as undertrials.
- What lessons India Inc would learn was the question on April 9 this year, when B Ramalinga Raju, his brother B Rama Raju and eight others were sentenced and sent to jail. Without getting into the merits or demerits of the case, this was arguably the first time that a financial fraud had seen the complete cycle from the case coming to light to the final sentencing.
- How equipped is India Inc to introspect on issues of perceived unethical behavior? What is their perception of the severity with which such issues should be handled internally within the company? Some industry leaders are raising these questions as the Satyam case now moves to a higher court. Just a month after the case sentencing, all the 10 sentenced in the case have now been granted bail. By May 11 evening, all may be headed home after paying a portion of the fines imposed on each and with the case now slated to begin in a higher court.
- Is there a broader issue of speed of dispensing court cases in India? Many business leaders have drawn comparisons with the speed with which former McKinsey & Company Managing Director Rajat Gupta was tried, found guilty, and sentenced in an insider trading case in the US, where the trial began in May 2012, almost three years after the Satyam case was revealed.
- The Satyam case also saw questions often being raised on how thorough and water-proof is the case that the investigating authorities and prosecution makes. Is there any room for improvement in India?
- Finally, the question arises on the lessons for auditing firms and their role and responsibility.