Satyam: PF fraud alarm should have rung 3 yrs ago
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More than 100 days after the government began its multi-pronged damage control exercise over the Satyam Computer Services accounting fraud, it turns out that at least one central government agency — the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)— was in a position to raise a red flag about the firm's operations as early as August 2006.
Documents accessed by The Financial Express reveal that Satyam may have submitted forged challans to the EPFO as proof of PF contributions for the months of August 2006 and December 2006. The challans indicated that nearly Rs 13.13 crore was deposited with EPFO's designated banker for each month.
"This is not confirmed in the banker statement," the EPFO has found after an internal review of the Satyam group firms' PF accounts. It admits the challans were forged. Following B Ramalinga Raju's admission of fraud, it emerged that deposit certificates from top private and foreign banks were forged as well.
For the PF 'default' of these two months and December 2008, when the failed Maytas buyout burst Satyam's bubble, the PF authorities have now initiated "action for assessment of dues". Taken together, the default for these three months adds up to Rs 41.74 crore.
But it's not just Satyam Computers defaults that were ignored by the department. Ten of the 12 Satyam group firms registered with the EPFO's Hyderabad office haven't been complying or filing challans with the PF office.
These include Satyam's joint venture with General Electric, Satyam GE Software Services Limited (no challans filed since June 2005), Satyam Venture Engineering Services Private Limited (no challans since December 2006), and Satyam BPO (last challan filed in November 2008).
Of the 14 Maytas group firms registered with the Hyderabad PF office, action has been initiated for assessing dues against 11. Two of these firms, Maytas Global E Services Pvt Ltd and Maytas-NCC (PF Code# AP/51092), haven't submitted challans since February 2006.
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