Disgraced founder of Satyam Computer Services (now Mahindra Satyam) B Ramalinga Raju, who admitted to committing India's largest corporate fraud, may walk free due to lack of coordination and differences between the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), the two agencies investigating the scandal.
HT has learnt that the ED has questioned the jurisdiction of the Hyderabad chief metropolitan magistrate's court in which the CBI last year filed a 10,000-page chargesheet against Raju and other accused.Following this, the finance ministry has asked the law ministry to sort out the issue, pointing out that the accused might get away since the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 clearly states that such cases can be heard only by special designated courts.
"Since the present case involves money laundering and properties of the accused have been attached, the question of jurisdiction can help the accused raise the issue of wrong trial," the finance ministry said in its note.
Raju resigned as chairman of Satyam on January 7, 2009.
In his resignation letter to the company's board, he admitted to various counts of accounting fraud adding up to more than Rs 7,000 crore.
He was arrested a few days later but is out on bail since August 18, 2010.
Satyam, once considered a gold standard IT major in the same league as TCS, Infosys and Wipro, went through a turbulent period following Raju's admission before being acquired by the Mahindra & Mahindra group on April 13, 2009.
It was renamed Mahindra Satyam.
But despite the admission in his resignation letter, the CBI's action may let Raju get away.
The finance ministry had earlier sought legal opinion on the matter, but strangely, a government law officer found nothing wrong with the CBI action.
Now, the finance ministry has sought a final opinion from the government's top law officer, attorney general GE Vahanvati, on what can be done to rescue the case and the government from a major embarrassment.