This week’s Wall of Shame post is about the recent Satyam Computers’ scandal, the Indian IT outsourcing giant.
The scandal, reported extensively in the media, is the biggest-ever corporate fraud in the India’s history. Satyam’s former CEO, Ramalinga Raju, admitted he had been cooking the books of his firm for the last years. In his statement, Mr. Raju said that about $1bn (€0.75bn), reflecting 94% of the cash on the company’s books, was made up. The fraud he perpetrated was so large and complex that Indian business people are already calling it the “India’s Enron”.
But this immense fraud scandal does not end here. Just like in Enron’s case -in which one of the “Big Five” accounting firms, Arthur Andersen, was finished-, now one of the remaining “Big Four” is finding itself in the middle of this turmoil: PriceWaterhouseCoopers is in the spotlight.
Bloomberg.com reports that two PriceWaterhouseCoopers auditors have just been arrested, putting the auditing organization in the center of attention. It is the first time in India’s history that an auditor has been detained for failing to ensure a client’s financial integrity. PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP may even face scrutiny in the U.S. after Satyam’s equities -listed in New York- lost 82% of their market value in two weeks.
Many implications arise out of this scandal. The first question that comes to mind is how such big fraud could happen without anybody noticing it. Although Mr. Raju claims that only few people knew about the scam, the country’s regulators, including Sebi and India’s Institute of Chartered Accountants, have promised an investigation. This will lead inevitably lead to stricter oversight of auditors; furthermore, analysts believe the rules governing independent directors will need to be tightened to force them to be more accountable. Also, questions are also being asked about governance at India’s other family dominated businesses.
Keyword here? Accountability. Once again, we see the need of an independent auditing platform for securing and making kind of sensitive data tamper-evident, like the Kinamik Secure Audit Vault. Having this kind of platforms in place acts as a deterrent: if any user (even the most privileged ones) has the certainty that his/hers trails are being “recorded”, and cannot be covered, the occurrence of these kind of scandals would be certainly lower. Users at all levels, up to the c-level will be accountable for their actions, and by counting with trustworthy and tamper-evident sensitive data of all the actions that took place, organizations could even protect the innocent by unquestionably proving not only what was done, but also that nothing has been changed.
You can read more about the Kinamik Secure Audit Vault here .