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Confiscate Satyam land, pay salaries: CPI(M)

January 16, 2009 18:27 IST

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Asking the government not to use taxpayers money to bail out scam-struck Satyam [Get Quote], the CPI(M) on Friday demanded confiscation of about 17,500 acres of land, given to it and two Maytas companies by the Andhra Pradesh government, to pay for the salaries of its 53,000 employees.

It also wanted investigation into the 'largesse' shown by the Congress government in the state in allotting public land to the companies belonging to the family of its chief B Ramalinga Raju and also whether the profits of Satyam were used to acquire assets by eight other firms owned by them, including Maytas Properties and Maytas Infra.

"It is high time that the Prime Minister and his cronies in the Planning Commission live up to their so far hollow rhetoric of not wishing to legitimise, leave alone permit, crony capitalism. This entire episode, once again, reconfirms the saying : Deceit, thy name is capitalism," Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of party organ People's Democracy.

Observing that there was widespread concern about the welfare and future of Satyam employees, he said the government was considering a bailout package for the staffers but noted that this could not be done 'at public expense by using the tax payers' money'.

Noting that three companies owned by the Raju family had 'humongous real estate assets', Yechury said, 'these must be 'confiscated and converted into cash assets from which the employees' welfare must be safeguarded.'

Maintaining that the prime minister had asked the Serious Fraud Investigation Office to probe the scandal within three months, he said while this needs to be done, the investigation 'must cover all aspects of the swindle and not confine itself only to the cooked up accounts'.

The CPI(M) leader said it was 'simply unbelievable' that the 'colossal financial swindle with cooked up account books' had surprisingly remained undetected for so many years and added that Raju's recent confession 'appears to mask a larger loot and swindle'.

While the ratio of operating margins to revenue was actually below three per cent, they were shown as 24 per cent in the accounts -- leading to a swindle of Rs 7,800 crore (Rs 78 billion), he said.

Yechury said Satyam, Maytas Properties and Maytas Infra had been given a total of over 17,408 acres of land by the Andhra Pradesh government at ten places in the state.

He said the exaggeration of the health of the company and its profit margins contributed over the years in keeping the share prices of Satyam high on the stock market. "Thus, by orchestrating a false high price, the sale of shares would have raked in undue super profits. By selling shares when the prices are high, the profits could be used to acquire real assets elsewhere."

Yechury said the role of the company auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers should be probed and demanded that the investigation cover all angles of how public money was 'siphoned off' by the family to acquire huge real assets.

'In addition, the largesse shown by the Congress state government of Andhra Pradesh in allotting public lands to the companies belonging to the Raju family must also be probed,' he said.

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