Whistle-blowers deserve protection: Salman Khurshid

Last Updated: Thursday, October 1, 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Satyam`s board was superseded by the government after its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 1, 2009 - 14:31

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