The Disciplinary Committee of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India(ICAI) has completed its enquiry in the matter of two of the employee Chartered Accountants, namely, CA. Pulavarthi Siva Prasad for the period 1.4.2001 -31.3.2005 and CA. Chintapatla Ravindernath for the period 1.4.2005 – 30.09.2008 from M/s. Lovelock & Lewes, Chartered Accountants, Kolkata who pursuant to the understanding between M/s. Price Waterhouse, Bangalore and M/s. Lovelock & Lewes, Kolkata, were deputed to carry out the audit of M/s. Satyam Computer Services Limited, the audit of which was appointed in the name of M/s. Price Waterhouse, Bangalore.
After submission of its Report and hearing these Chartered Accountants before awarding the punishment, the Disciplinary Committee finally noted that there was serious gross negligence on the part of these two Chartered Accountants in the discharge of their duties as Audit Team Members which carried out the statutory audit of M/s. Satyam Computer Services Limited for the period 1.4.2001 to 30.9.2008.
The Committee has ordered the removal of the name of these two Chartered Accountants from the Register of Members permanently and also imposed a fine of Rs. 5 lac each on both of them (which is the maximum amount as per the Act). However, the ICAI has already sent the proposal to the Ministry to increase the penalty based on the misconduct and serious charges involved.
The hearing in the matter(s) of other Respondents who were heading the team which conducted the audit of M/s. Satyam Computer Services Limited, namely, Mr. S.Gopalakrishnan and Mr. S. Talluri, Mr. V.Srinivasu, Ex- CFO, Satyam Computer Services Limited and Mr. V.S.Prabhakara Gupta, Ex-Internal Audit Head, M/s. Satyam Computer Services Limited though were initiated as early as on 14th December, 2009 yet could not be completed on account of various reasons which are illustrated below:
All the Four Respondents as aforementioned were in judicial custody and were not granted bail till February, 2010, whereafter, one of the Respondents out of four got the bail from the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Meanwhile, another Respondent, namely, Mr. V.S.Prabhakara Gupta had got the stay from the Hon’ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh for stay of the Disciplinary proceeding. The said Orders as of now has not been vacated inspite of the efforts of ICAI. The hearings were fixed on number of occasions but two of the Respondents moved the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi for which again the orders were received in favour of ICAI, to go ahead with the Disciplinary proceedings. Subsequently, one of the Respondents, namely, Mr. S. Talluri filed Special Leave Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India against the Orders of Division Bench of Hon’ble High Court of Delhi. The ICAI presented its case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and ultimately the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 1st August, 2011 allowed the ICAI to go ahead with the Disciplinary proceedings parallel to the CBI proceedings going on in the Trial Court at Hyderabad. On 1st August, 2011, the Hon’ble Supreme Court heard the Special Leave Petition and ordered the ICAI to commence the proceedings from the week commencing on 3rd October, 2011. Accordingly, the hearing was fixed in the month of October, 2011. The hearing in the matter of Mr. S. Talluri took place in October, 2011. As regards the other Respondents were concerned, the hearings could not be held since they were in the judicial custody.
Lately, all the Respondents have been released by the respective Courts on bail and the hearing has been fixed in the month of December, 2011 but for Mr. V.S.Prabhakara Gupta wherein the stay orders are still continuing.
It is amply clear from the above that ICAI has been doing its level best to conduct the hearings while giving ample opportunity to the Respondents to present their defence but the endeavour of ICAI at each stage has been hampered by the various Court matters initiated by the Respondents so as to thwart disciplinary proceedings at each stage. The endeavour of ICAI is now to conduct the enquiry in the matters of remaining Respondents and to come out with its Reports expeditiously.
Like always, the ICAI has been always pro-active in punishing its erring members so as to maintain the highest standards of Chartered Accountancy in India as well as outside India and we would wish to re-emphasise the fact that there is no need of multi-regulators to regulate the profession as there is very famous phrase “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.
Finally, I would like to add that the ICAI as a Regulatory body for accountancy in India shall always strive to conduct its robust disciplinary proceedings expeditiously, judicially and transparently.
The matter(s) relating to Global Trust Bank Ltd could not be brought to their logical end expeditiously because of the petitions filed by the Respondents in the various Courts during various stages of investigation. Lately, when the Council had given its final recommendation, one of the Respondents has moved a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court of India and the Hon’ble Supreme Court have ordered that until further orders, no final order be passed by the Council in so far as the said Respondent is concerned.
As regards the other Respondents involved in the Global Trust Bank Ltd., are concerned, the ICAI fixed the date(s) for consideration of the Reports of the Disciplinary Committee by the Council and as regards auditors involved in the audit of Global Trust Bank Ltd. for the years 2002-03 is concerned, the hearing by the Disciplinary Committee is going to be fixed which could not be undertaken earlier on account of stay from the concerned Hon’ble High Court.