Govt to allow SFIO to seek outside help to probe fraud

Govt to allow SFIO to seek outside help to probe fraud

"The process for approving the outsourcing of office staff/empanelment of experts is in the final stages and will be announced soon," a Corporate Affairs Ministry official said.

After getting green signal from the Ministry, the official said, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) would be able to obtain services of outside experts like chartered accountants and capital market functionaries to comprehend and probe the complex financial transaction.

The proposal to allow SFIO to seek assistance of outside experts follows problems of manpower shortage faced by it during investigation of multi-crore Satyam accounting fraud.
The agency had already submitted 14,000-page preliminary report to the Corporate Affairs Ministry and has been asked to further look into siphoning of funds by the promoters of Satyam, including its disgraced founder B Ramalinga Raju.

SFIO would be required to scan financial statements of over 350 firms and about 800 bank accounts to trail money and identify beneficiaries of the Satyam fraud case. "Staff had to be hired on a deputation basis while investigating the Satyam scam, as requirement for staff had increased then. For cases of this magnitude or even lesser, SFIO would need extra staff, and of course expertise," the official said.

The Ministry, he added, would also give directions to the SFIO on selection of outside experts and payment structure for work outsourced from external agencies. At present, the SFIO has one director and about 40 other senior functionaries including assistant, additional and joint directors specialising in diverse fields like customs and central excise, income tax, company law, banking, capital market and financial transactions.