Whistle-blowers deserve protection: Salman Khurshid
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 01, 2009, 14:31
  
New Delhi: People who blow the whistle on scams or wrongdoings in companies need official protection, but regrettably there is no structure in place to encourage them to do so, feels Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

"Many companies (and) chartered accountants complain to me that we don't have a listener to our whistle. Where do we go and blow our whistle. This is a big problem," he told a news agency.

He was replying to questions about reports that there was insider trading in Satyam.

"If we are to encourage people who have special knowledge, and in public interest should be disclosing that to someone, I think it's a very good idea.

"There are ways of protecting the identity, the interest of the whistle-blower, but we also know that we have not put anywhere in the country a structure for whistle-blowing, inviting whistle-blowers," he said.

On the reports about the Satyam deal -- a day before the scam broke out -- that Tech Mahindra was looking at a merger deal with Satyam Computer, and another suitor L&T was purchasing shares of Satyam, Khurshid asserted that there was complete transparency in the bidding process.

"You can speculate about anything, but there was a completely open and transparent bidding... under an open transparent bidding, somebody who has a locus (standi) can always come and say that it was acceptable for such and such reasons," he said.

In such a process that was done at the behest of independent directors, Khurshid added, it would be like "chasing a red herring. Not only a red herring, possibly putting a question mark when there is no justification for it at all."

Satyam's board was superseded by the government after its founder and then Chairman B Ramalinga Raju admitted on January 7 to a massive fraud at the firm and six independent directors were subsequently nominated to the crisis-hit IT firm.

Later, Tech Mahindra acquired controlling stake in the company after the Company Law Board-approved bidding process.

"We are completely satisfied with the process, which was above-board and in full sight of an objective board," the minister said.

Noting that there were nothing to worry about in the way Satyam issue was handled, he, however, added that the ministry was always open to look into "anything worth examining, if it comes authenticated by someone, who has knowledge and is ready to stand by it."

While asserting that there was an urgent need for a structure to be brought in place for whistle blowers, Khurshid said it was regretful that one was not in place in the country.

"Because there are two sides to it — there are also people who blow a lot of false whistles, and we don't want to encourage false whistles either.

"So, if there is anything of serious nature brought by a serious person prepared to take responsibility, of course the authorities concerned will examine it," he said.

Bureau Report


First Published: Thursday, October 01, 2009, 14:31


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