SFIO to be armed with powers to interrogate: Govt

Last Updated: Friday, October 2, 2009 - 15:19

New Delhi: The government is likely to arm SFIO, an investigating wing of the Corporate Affairs Ministry, with powers to interrogate and seize documents among others, following the complaints that it faced problems in probing the multi-crore Satyam accounting fraud.

The move comes amid requests from the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) functionaries who wanted requisite powers to call for documents and question people to effectively probe grave corporate frauds.
The new Company Bill, 2009, which is currently being looked into by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, is expected to provide statutory status and powers to the SFIO like any other investigating agency.

Speaking to PTI, Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, said, "We (SFIO) require some more teeth, some more investigation powers to be given to them and other powers
that go with investigations."

Pointing out that the SFIO would be given statutory and legal powers in line with the Vepa Kamesan Committee report, the minister said, "The biggest problem with us is that we can neither do requisition nor could we keep the records."
"We certainly could not interrogate. We certainly could not investigate. That is the problem...I think that (committee recommendations) would be taken care of in the bill."

Admitting that SFIO`s expertise was stretched to the last limit during the Satyam probe, Khurshid said lack of manpower was a "handicap" at the beginning of the probe.

The SFIO had already submitted a 14,000-page report to the government on Satyam fraud and is currently probing the issues concerning siphoning off of funds by Satyam promoters including its founder chairman B Ramalinga Raju.

"Lack of manpower has not affected Satyam investigations so much but lack of manpower has caused consequential problems because everything was concentrated on Satyam. It was an important case for the country and for ourselves.

"Therefore we have to put every resource that were available to SFIO essentially towards looking after Satyam. We had to station people in Hyderabad. We had to look at various
leads available. The personnel issue is largely taken care of and resolved," he said.

Bureau Report




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