The Indian government is likely to arm the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (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, reports PTI.
The move comes amid requests from the 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, "SFIO requires 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 the 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 us.”
"Therefore we have to put every resource that was 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.