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Satyam says three weeks are needed to assess books

India's fraud-hit Satyam Computer said it expects auditors to take three weeks to discover the true state of the outsourcing giant's finances.

business Updated: Jan 19, 2009 13:45 IST

India's fraud-hit Satyam Computer said it expects auditors to take three weeks to discover the true state of the outsourcing giant's finances, a company spokesman said on Monday.

The comments came after the New York Times quoted an unnamed investigator as saying Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju pocketed huge amounts of cash from the company -- rather than just padding its books as he has claimed.

"The accounts are getting tallied for where the anomalies are," the Satyam spokesman told AFP. "The auditors are doing this."

"It is going to take three weeks for a judgement (by the auditors) of how much has gone, and where it has gone," the spokesman said.

India's business community has been rocked by a statement from Raju earlier this month in which he declared he had created a fictitious cash balance of more than one billion dollars and inflated profits for years.

The New York Times, however, said investigators had found a "maze" of 300 companies related to Raju that were used to siphon money from Satyam.

Raju, a pioneer of India's outsourcing boom, was questioned Monday by police for a second day about his confession that over a billion dollars of the company's cash was "non-existent."

He has previously insisted he had not "taken even one rupee/dollar from the company."

PricewaterhouseCoopers audited the company's financial statements for years and is now being probed by India's accounting board. It has been replaced by accounting houses KPMG and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

Meanwhile, the company spokesman said Satyam's government-appointed board was searching for a new chief executive and chief financial officer but that the hunt was "absolutely at early days."

The spokesman denied a report in India's Economic Times that the board was set to name an investment banker to scout for a buyer for the company.

The spokesman said the company was focusing on "day-to-day operations" and meeting clients "to assure them what has happened will not affect business continuity, that onsite work will continue."

Satyam generates 97 percent of its revenues outside India. Its more than 600 clients include a third of the Fortune 500 companies such as food giant Nestle SA.

"Employees are reporting to work on time, morale is still high, everyone is trying to keep their chin up," the spokesman said.