Satyam case: Ramalinga Raju, nine more get seven-year jail

In a much-awaited ruling on India’s biggest corporate fraud, a special CBI court on Thursday sentenced Satyam Computer Services Ltd’s founder B. Ramalinga Raju, his two brothers and seven others to seven years in the multi-crore-rupee Satyam case.

Soon after the court pronounced the verdict, the convicts were shifted to the Cherlapally Jail here. They can move the higher court for bail.

The court also imposed over Rs.5 crore fine each on 60-year-old Ramalinga Raju, the Satyam company’s former chairman, and his brother B. Rama Raju and up to Rs.50 lakh each on the remaining accused, CBI counsel K. Surender said.

“Various sentences ranging from two to seven years were imposed on the accused but all the sentences would run concurrently. That is the reason the maximum sentence is seven years which they have to serve,” he told reporters.

The other accused are Ramalinga Raju’s another brother, B. Suryanarayana Raju, Satyam’s former chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas, former PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors Subramani Gopalakrishnan and T. Srinivas, former employees G. Ramakrishna, D. Venkatpathi Raju and Ch. Srisailam, and Satyam’s former internal chief auditor V.S. Prabhakar Gupta.

Special Judge B.V.L.N. Chakravarthi of the Central Bureau of Investigation court announced the quantum of punishment in the afternoon, hours after pronouncing all the accused guilty on various counts.

The court agreed with the prosecution that the economic offence was of serious nature and it had a big impact on the country’s economy and the corporate sector.

The judge did not take into account the plea by the convicts for leniency in the punishment on grounds of their age, health and the problems faced by their families.

The accused told the judge that they have already spent more than two years in jail.

Ramalinga Raju, the main accused, also sought leniency on the ground of social service he had done in the past.

All the 10 accused were found guilty under Sections 120-B, 420, 409,419, 467, 471, 477-A and 201 of Indian Penal Code that refer to offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, cheating by (im)personation, forgery of valuable security, forgery for the purpose of cheating, using a forged document as genuine, falsification of accounts and for causing disappearance of evidence.

The scam came to light on January 7, 2009 when Ramalinga Raju confessed that the company’s account books and profits were inflated over many years to the tune of several crores of rupees.

Police arrested him two days later on a complaint by some shareholders.

The CBI, which took up investigation in February 2009, put the loss to the shareholders at Rs.14,162 crore.

Ramalinga Raju

According to the CBI, Ramalinga Raju and members of his family secured illegal gains to the tune of about Rs.2,743 crore by various tricks. Raju was charged with floating several front companies to buy land with the scam money.

The CBI filed three chargesheets against Raju and the other accused. It submitted to the court over one lakh documents.

The court examined 226 witnesses during the hearing.

Ramalinga Raju, the disgraced IT czar, who even shared the dais with then US president Bill Clinton during the latter’s visit to Hyderabad, has spent nearly 32 months in jail.

Raju, who was released on bail in 2011, later retracted his confession and contended that all the charges levelled against him were false.

After the scam, Tech Mahindra took over Satyam Computers in a government-sponsored auction. Mahindra Satyam later merged with Tech Mahindra.

An economic offences court on December 8 last year sentenced Ramalinga Raju and three others to six months imprisonment in six of the seven cases filed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).

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