Defending the CFO: Satyam’s Srinivas Vadlamani

About 4 years ago I was offerred the job of an Internal Auditor in a leading life insurance company. I did not seriously consider that option because I realised that the role would be that of a faithful dog. You had to stand in front of the Board and say things are just fine. It is a high tension job – where if things went right, it was your duty and when things went wrong – you were the blame guy! Seeing the sales figures, the lapsation of policies, the non payment of even the 2nd month premium, – are all known to the industry powers that be. However, it will take a little boy to tell the insurance industry that the king is wearing no clothes!

I have full sympathy for Satyam’s Srinivas! As a little boy he must have dreamt of making it in India’s corporate world. Then he got a  C A degree and age 33 senior manager accounts at Satyam. There he sees a powerful Chairman and MD – promoters who could speak to the finance minister, chief minister,…etc. with ease. When he got suspicious about the huge amounts of money lying in bank accounts (and the day to day struggle to pay small bills) he asked the MD. The MD said “use the money from operations, only”.Then the MD has got him forged TDS certificates. Srinivas must have then been engulfed in his own problems – EMI, bigger house, etc. and he fooled himself into believing that for 14 years Ramalinga Raju has been able to carry on this shenanigans, he can continue to do so. Only this time when the music stopped, he was also holding the baby!

And if the accounts have been falsified for 7 years, it is time PWC was blacklisted. At least once in 7 years if they had asked for bank balance confirmations AT THEIR OFFICE ADDRESS, their suspicion would have been raised.

If the illustrious board did not care to find out why vendor payments were being delayed, or ask for a balance confirmation from the bank, or a reconciliation between the fund flow and the cash flow, why blame Srinivas?

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