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'Satyam: Sebi must be given chance to probe'

March 06, 2009 13:03 IST

An information technology sector veteran says the Securities and Exchange Board of India should have been allowed to question Satyam management and believes it is time the Department of Company Affairs delegated a lot of its powers to the market regulator to effectively probe corporate frauds.

"I feel Sebi as a main regulator should have been give a proper opportunity to question them (Satyam management) because Sebi officers have the best technical knowledge to look at the accounts and everything," former Karnataka IT secretary Vivek Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni,who has more that 25 years experience in business and government and is currently chairman and CEO of knowledge process outsourcing company Brickwork India, said DCA also has to delegate a lot of its powers to Sebi.

"So far DCA has not done it. Most of the powers are with DCA themselves. So the net result is Sebi is like a field office," he said.

A former division chief of Sebi himself, Kulkarni said: "Because of this multiple regulations -- DCA, RBI, Sebi and so on and the State government which has NBFC act etc., it's very difficult to coordinate amongst regulators and if one person (regulator) says that it's my domain and does not give information to other, everybody suffers."

Referring to the Satyyam fraud, Kulkarni said: "As a system, what it tells us is that we need to have discipline and reform our intermediaries. We need to have quality in our chartered accountants and investment bankers. That's more important for us."

More than the Satyam fraud,what's more shocking is that it has gone through many filters. The auditors and hundreds of investment bankers who analysed the company failed to point out the fraud. "So there were many intermediaries. But no one pointed it out. That's the most unfortunate part."

Referring to some of the unlisted and family-run companies, Kulkarni said right from the beginning, there isn't transparency as far as Indian firms are concerned and some keep the same auditors for 10 or 15 years.

"If you bring in transparency, the same companies can go to the market and raise billions of dollars. Because there is no transparency, we hesitate to invest in them," he said.

Kulkarni said people are willing to invest, for example, in a small firm in Bangalore if auditing is proper, but if people are not sure about auditing, they would not put the money and "that's bad for the country."

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