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Sebi grills Raju, keeps lawyer out

business Updated: Feb 04, 2009 21:18 IST
Ashok Das
Ashok Das
Hindustan Times
Sebi grills Raju

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) scored a minor victory in its attempts to probe deposed Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju in the Satyam corporate fraud case as his lawyer was kept out of its interrogations – a luxury that Andhra Pradesh police did not have for the past three weeks.

Raju’s lawyer S. Bharat Kumar, who wanted to be present during the quizzing, said he would take the matter to the Supreme Court, and was in a mood to challenge the outcome of SEBI’s interrogation.

While a five-member team from SEBI grilled the man at the Chanchalguda Central jail in Hyderabad, the government-appointed board aiming to put Satyam Computer Services back on the rails by installing a new management and cleaning up its fraud-mauled books extended its meeting to Thursday. The board says Satyam has more than 50,000 employees on its rolls.

Jail officials said that they provided a room with a table and few chairs for SEBI officials, who had to move the Supreme Court to get access to the Rajus. The questioning began at 11 a.m. and continued till evening but for a brief lunch break. It will resume on Thursday.

“I tried to meet SEBI team leader Sunil Kumar to make a request for providing legal assistance to my client during recording of his statement. However, Sunil Kumar refused to meet me,” Bharat Kumar said.

SEBI is mainly probing insider trading charges in the company.

Opposing the manner in which the interrogation was being carried out, Bharat Kumar pointed out that his client did not have any records to project his perspective of the issue and the confined jail atmosphere was not conducive to making any voluntary statements.

"We will take the issue (legal assistance) to the Supreme Court. We will also question the validity of statements extracted in a confinement," he said.

Bharat Kumar also termed a newspaper report listing out Ramalinga Raju`s bungalows in different countries and his large wardrobe as ‘baseless’ and ‘motivated’.

Raju’s lawyers plan to move a bail petition again on Friday.