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Satyam Computers Floated on Lies for Seven Years

Satyam Computers, India's IT scam, Satyam, Ramalinga Raju

He was cooking his company’s books with a generous dash of lies to make the figures attractive. The portion of lies was getting larger and larger every year. It went on for seven years garnering several awards for the cook and the company along the way.

The lies, however, became too “fat” to contain at the end of the third quarter of the seventh year. The monster of the untruth had grown into $ 1 billion fraud, the first mega-scam of India’s IT space, with a global impact.

Left with no choice, cook B Ramalinga Raju, who happened to be the CEO and co-founder chairman of the company, Satyam Computers Services Ltd, decided to tell the truth or rather the untruth. On January 7, 2009, the e-mail he sent to his colleagues, saying that the company books contained non-existent assets and under-rated liabilities, was made public shocking people and markets across the world.

Besides the mayhem in Indian markets, a sudden uncertainty loomed large over 53,000 employees of the company. Within a couple of days job portals reported more than 25,000 applications from Satyam employees.

The fourth largest IT Company

Satyam Computers Services Ltd is the fourth largest IT services provider of India. Armed with an MBA from Ohio University, Raju co-founded the company 21 years ago. With the help of an abundant state patronage, Raju’s empire expanded into eight companies, including real estate and infra structure companies in his sons’ names.

Headquartered at the India’s southern city of Hyderabad, Satyam operates from more than 65 countries including the USA, the UK, the Middle East, Japan, Singapore and Australia. The company has business with more than 700 global clients including Fortune 500 companies such as Nestle, General Electric and Ford Motors.

Awards galore

The lies apart, Ramalinga Raju picked up several awards along his “spectacular” journey that include: the 2008 Golden Peacock Global Award for Excellence in Corporate Governance by World Council for Corporate Governance, of the UK and the Asia Business Leader Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2007 by Ernst & Young.

Ironically, Satyam's internal audit team, which apparently did not do a good job all these years, was awarded the Recognition of Commitment award by the Institute of Internal Auditors, USA in 2006.

Jail for the richest

Incidentally, “Satyam” means “truth” in Sanskrit. But Ramalinga Raju believed that he did not need to live by his company’s name.

However, Raju’s scant regard for “truth” has been emphatically rejected by his destiny. One of the ten richest Indians, a few days ago with his $1.3 billion fortune, he had to share a prison cell with 40 other inmates when he landed in jail eventually, two days after he sent the fateful e-mail.
Published: 2009-01-12
Author: Susheela Hegde

About the author or the publisher
Have been writing and editing for over six years. Have worked with a newspaper as sub-editor in India and as an online news writer for a US online news agency. Being a practitioner of new age spirituality, I am interested in writing on that subject, including mind and personal development. I can, however, write on any subject by referencing web sources.

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