Netflix's latest docu-series, Bad Boy Billionaires: India, looks at the rise and fall of three of India's most flamboyant business tycoons, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, and Subrata Roy.
However, originally, the docu-series focused not on 3, but 4 business magnates of India.
The fourth person was Ramalinga Raju, the former CEO of Satyam Computers (now a part of Tech Mahindra), who resigned from his post after admitting to accounting fraud over ₹7,000 crores or $1bn.
The eldest of four children, Ramalinga Raju earned his Bachelor's degree from Andhra Loyola College at Vijayawada, before moving to the United States for his MBA. He returned to India in 1977 and launched several business ventures, all of which failed. d
But in 1987, he started Satyam computers and it became one of his first profitable ventures. In 20 years, it had 185 Fortune 500 companies in its client list, over 50,000 employees, and reported revenues worth $2billion.
But in 2009, it all came crashing down.
Termed as India's own 'Enron Scandal', the Satyam Scandal first came to light in 2009 after a botched acquisition deal of Maytas Infra and Maytas Properties (controlled by Mr. Raju's family members and known associates).
The acquisition deal raised red flags because of the value of the deal, and because it was made without shareholders' approval. As foreign investors of the firm backed out, Satyam was forced to back out of the deal but the damage had already been done.
In January, a month after announcing the acquisition of Maytas, Satyam's investment banker DSP Merrill Lynch informed SEBI of irregularities in the company accounts.
As Raju put it in his five-page-long confession cum resignation later, it started with a small gap in the balance sheet but over several years, ended with revenues being overstated by ₹588 crores.
What started as a marginal gap between actual operating profit and the one reflected in the books continued to grow over the years. It has attained unmanageable proportions as the size of the company's operations grew over the years... It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.
- Raju in his confession letter
The perpetrators had grossly inflated the revenues, operating profits, interest liabilities, and even cash balances, thereby misrepresenting the company's accounts to all its stakeholders, including the board, the investors, and even the stock exchange.
According to Raju's own letter, following is a list of the major inaccuracies reported in the accounts:
In his resignation letter, Raju also laid down a proposed plan, stated that not a single penny was used for personal gains, and marked the Chairmans of SEBI and Stock Exchanges.
Soon after Raju, and his brother, the company's managing director, were arrested by the CID on charges of cheating, breach of trust, conspiracy, and falsification of records. The company shares fell to ₹11.50, after hitting a high of ₹588 in 2008.
In the course of its investigation, the CID alleged that it was actually a Rs 14,000 crore fraud, double the amount of what Raju had listed in his resignation letter.
CID also alleged that the company records were fudged to show 13,000 extra employees. CID added that through these 'fictitious employees' and forged FD documents, Raju and his associates had siphoned off a total of ₹1,250 crore over several years. Later, CBI took over the case.
Initially, Raju was granted bail on medical conditions, but in October 2010, his bail was revoked and he was asked to surrender by November 2011. However, by November 4, 2011, Raju again got bail since CBI failed to file charges on time.
Ultimately, the case went to court again in 2013, when the ED filed a chargesheet against Ramalinga Raju and other associates involved in the scam. And In 2014, SEBI filed two complaints against the Raju brothers, former Satyam CFO Vadlamani Srinivas and two former auditors of international auditing firm PWC, among others.
In 2015, six years after the case first came to notice, Ramalinga Raju and his brother were sentenced to 7 years in jail and fined up to ₹5.5 crores each. Apart from them, 8 other associated also received rigorous punishments and were fined ₹25 lakh each.
However, after just a month, all the accused were granted bail. Raju, and his brother's seven-year-long imprisonment was also suspended, on furnishing of personal bonds of ₹1 lakh each and two sureties of the like sum.
Satyam Computers was acquired by Mahindra in 2009 and rebranded as Mahindra Satyam. In 2013, Mahindra Satyam merged with Tech Mahindra. Additionally, in 2018, SEBI imposed a two-year-ban on Satyam's auditor, the audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), because of its failure to detect the fraud.