The Scandals that marred India's image

By Aadil Masood, SiliconIndia   |   Monday, 25 October 2010, 02:42 Hrs
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The Scandals that marred India's image
Bangalore: As games are over, the scam ghosts have started haunting the organizers of Common Wealth Games. Initial investigation reveals that the scandal is deep rooted involving big guns. Though India is set to become a super power, scams are yet to be controlled. Of late, India seems to be plagued by frauds one after the other. The nation would have hardly forgotten the infamous corporate scam by Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju, when an equally bigger scandal of CWG is revealed.


Here, we will look at the top five scandals in relation to the enormity of these scandals that have erupted over several years in Indian history to understand the complicacies, with the hope of not being repeated in the future. What are common in each of these cases are discrepancies in financial regulation and corporate governance.


1. Fraudulent CWG: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), involved in probing alleged corruption in various Commonwealth Games-related projects, has found discrepancies in tenders and alleged misappropriation amounting to about Rs 8,000 crore. It reveals that cashwas abnormally doled out for many Games related projects. Large sums of money have allegedly been paid to non-existent parties.
The Commonwealth Games scam could be much bigger than previously thought. Every day, more and more Games-related projects are coming under the scanner and fresh details of corruption and bungling indicate how deep the rot is. Skeletons are coming out of closet, the Urban Development Ministry directed the Delhi Development Authority DDA to freeze the company's Rs183 crores guarantee .As there were defects in the construction of the Commonwealth Games Village (CGV).


2. Satyam's corporate scandal: Satyam Computers, the fourth largest IT Company of India with 53,000 employees was charged in manipulating the balance sheet by illegal means. Satyam's operating margin wasn't the 24 percent as shown in its accounts audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers, but just 3 percent. And Satyam had nothing close to the reported 5,360 crore ($1.1 billion) cash pile on its balance sheet. The real amount was just a measly $78 million. On January 9, 2009, Chairman Ramalinga Raju surrendered to the police and confessed for the 7,100 crore fraud case.


The case has been handed over to CBI and investigations are still going on. Only time will tell whether justice prevails when it comes to the big guns. However, the implications of Satyam case were evident as the auditing part became stricter. Therefore, independent directors started facing the music which ultimately resulted in many public companies seeing large number of independent directors quitting the board.

3. The Harshad Mehta scam: In April 1992, the Indian stock market crashed, and Harshad Mehta, the person who was all along considered as the architect of the Bull Run was blamed for the crash. It transpired that he had manipulated the Indian banking systems to siphon off the funds from the banking system, and used the liquidity to build large positions in a select group of stocks. Harshad Mehta-the Big Bull' triggered a rise in the Bombay Stock Exchange in the year 1992 by trading in shares at a premium across many segments. Harshad and his associates triggered a securities scam diverting funds to the tune of Rs4000 crore (Rs 40 billion) from the banks to stockbrokers between April 1991 to May 1992.


He was later charged with 72 criminal offences. A Special Court also sentenced Sudhir Mehta, Harshad Mehta's brother, and six others, including four bank officials, to rigorous imprisonment (RI) ranging from 1 year to 10 years on the charge of duping State Bank of India to the tune of Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion) in connection with the securities scam that rocked the financial markets in 1992.


4.The 950 Crores Fodder Scam: Fodder Scam is a scam related to Animal Husbandry Department of Government of Bihar in which irregularities of nearly Rs 950 crores (US $ 210 million) were detected. The scam was unearthed in 1996 during the regime of chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, but it goes back to 1980s and is believed to have started during tenure of Jagannath Mishra Lalu had ordered probe into these massive irregularities in accounts by constituting a committee. However motives of these people were questioned by a Public Interest Litigation and Supreme Court of India handed over the case to CBI. Many people who were in this probe committee themselves became accused. Charges were filed against Yadav too and later on Mishra was also framed.


In India when it comes to politicians, they seem to have impunity from the law of land. Nothing concrete was done to punish the guilty and rest is history.


5. The great Capital Market fraud of 1990s: "Every single drop of my blood is for the depositors." However that was not to be the case as C.R Bhansali plundered and looted the trust and money of people which resulted in a loss of over Rs 1,200 crore (Rs 12 billion).C R Bhansali first launched the finance company CRB Capital Markets, followed by CRB Mutual Fund and CRB Share Custodial Services. He ruled like financial wizard 1992 to 1996 collecting money from the public through fixed deposits, bonds and debentures. The money was transferred to companies that never existed.


CRB Capital Markets raised a whopping 176 crore in three years. In 1994, CRB Mutual Funds raised 230 crore and 180 crore came via fixed deposits. Bhansali also succeeded in raising about Rs 900 crore from the markets.


Fraud is often explained in terms of the fraud triangle which describes that fraud is most likely to occur when there is an overlap of an incentive or pressure to commit fraud, the opportunity to commit fraud, and a rationalization therefore. A risk-management strategy and well-drafted economic-crime prevention policies provide a vital platform to prevent and detect fraud.

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