CID grills Ramalinga Raju, brother

Friday, January 9, 2009

HYDERABAD - Sleuths of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh police Saturday grilled disgraced former Satyam Computer Services chairman B. Ramalinga Raju and his brother and former company managing director B. Rama Raju in connection with a Rs.70 billion (1.43 billion) fraud in the company.

Inspector General of Police (Economic Offences Wing) V.S.K. Kaumudi and other CID officials interrogated them throughout the night, police sources said here Saturday.

Ramalinga Raju’s lawyer S. Bharat Kumar told reporters that the two were questioned for over three hours.

Ramalinga Raju, who founded India’s fourth largest IT firm, reportedly complained of uneasiness during the interrogation and police called a doctor to have him examined.

The CID officials questioned Ramalinga Raju about the confession he made in his statement Wednesday while resigning as chairman of the company.

The sources said the CID was trying to collect evidence that can be produced before the court while seeking their custody later in the day. Since the courts are closed on account of holiday, the accused may be produced before a magistrate at his residence.

Since Ramalinga Raju is a diabetic and has high blood pressure, his lawyer may request the magistrate to order police to render necessary medical assistance by admitting him to a hospital.

The brothers, arrested on charges of cheating and forgery after admission of inflated and non-existent revenues in accounts, spent the night in custody at the Andhra Pradesh police headquarters.

Police officer Kaumudi said the former Satyam bosses were booked under non-bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the punishment could be up to 10 years.

Kaumudi told reporters late Friday night that both the accused would be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours.

Legal experts said the accused were not likely to get bail, at least for 14 days. Ramalinga Raju’s counsel said a bail petition would be moved after they were produced in court.

Amid high drama, Ramalinga Raju and his brother accompanied by their lawyer drove to the police headquarters around 10 p.m. Friday to surrender but the CID officials arrested them to show that they were taking tough action.

Director General of Police S.S.P. Yadav told IANS that the state police arrested Ramalinga Raju and Rama Raju on charges of ‘criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy, cheating, falsification of records and forgery’.

A few minutes before the Rajus surrendered to police, CID had booked a criminal case against them.

The police sources said the case was registered on a complaint by Leela Mangat, a Satyam shareholder. The former bank employee complained that she held 200 shares in Satyam and lost heavily due to Ramalinga Raju’s action.

Ever since Ramalinga Raju admitted the massive fraud in the company Wednesday, police had been maintaining that they could arrest him only if somebody lodges a complaint. His whereabouts had also not been known.

Kaumudi said the arrest did not preclude investigations being carried out against the accused by the Registrar of Companies and market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

SEBI had Friday served summons on Ramalinga Raju and his lawyer had said that he would appear before SEBI officials at 4 p.m. Saturday. Following the arrest, the SEBI team is now likely to question him while he is in CID custody.

Ramalinga Raju’s lawyer told reporters that SEBI would have to seek permission from the court to interrogate him.

The SEBI team has been conducting the probe into the fraud since Thursday. It checked the books of accounts at Satyam offices here.

Meanwhile, the police sources said the CID might also arrest Vadlamani Srinivas, who resigned as chief financial officer (CFO) Thursday. The whereabouts of Srinivas is not known.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy had ordered probe by CID Wednesday to ‘look at the criminal angle into the entire episode’.

The CID stepped up investigations following criticism by opposition parties that the Congress government was soft towards Ramalinga Raju.

Filed under: India, Satyam

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