Global Economics

Raju's Shell Companies Want Satyam Money Back


A group of firms affiliated with Satyam founder Raju are demanding repayment of money they lent to the disgraced software company

In an ironic twist to the ongoing Satyam saga, a clutch of front firms promoted by the founder of Satyam Computer Services, B Ramalinga Raju, and his family, have demanded repayment of Rs 1,230 crore that they lent to the software firm.

A senior police official, who is a part of the AP police's investigation team said the firms, about 36 of them, made the demand immediately after Raju's stunning confession on January 7.

"The matter is now pending before the newly-inducted board," he added. The firms, Pavitravati Greenfields, Vishnupadi Greenfields, Vindhya Greenfields and Narmada Greenfields, are owned or controlled by Ramalinga Raju and his family.

It is not known when the firms lent the money to Satyam. According to Mr Raju's letter to the company's board on January 7, the liabilities of the company were understated. The police have also claimed that Mr Raju had told them that he had brought in about Rs 1,230 crore into Satyam by pledging shares of his family members with non-banking financial service companies.

Nandini Raju, the wife of Ramalinga Raju, B Suryanarayana Raju, the younger brother of Ramalinga Raju, Jhansi Rani, wife of Suryanarayana Raju, Rama Raju, the youngest sibling of Ramalinga Raju and his wife Radha Raju are among the directors in many or all of these firms.

This development has left the police in Hyderabad intrigued. They are wondering why the family of the accused, some of whom are also being investigated for their role in the falsification of accounts at Satyam, are making such a demand. The timing of the letter is also raising suspicions. It was written barely a day after January 7, raising the possibility of an attempt by some members of the extended Raju family to plead ignorance about the affair.

The Satyam board is also perplexed. A senior official said that they have nothing much to say about the demand. "We are currently in the process of verifying the outstanding liabilities of Satyam. Our plan is to make arrangements to repay only genuine loans given to the firm," a Satyam official involved in the verification process said. He added that only those liabilities which are genuine will be honoured. Police officials say that there is another reason to suspect the intentions behind the demand.

"These front firms were involved in land dealings and some of them have raised loans aggregating to Rs 1,500 crore to fund property purchases. The money has been raised from financial institutions. The Rajus floated several firms mainly to grab farm land, as the current land ceiling regulation allows an individual to hold only up to 55 acres of agricultural land," said the official.

According to him, the Rajus have bought land even in other states as well, mainly Pune in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Karnataka. The state police has now sought information from the department of registration and stamps in these states.


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