Early fraud detecting system for companies

A pilot project is already on with 50 listed firms

 
“We have already got (working) with Sebi. We have worked out a model of the early warning system (EWS). We are already running a pilot project... with 50 companies. We can now say with confidence that the EWS is already in operation,” Union Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told PTI.

The experience gained in operating the pilot project to detect corporate frauds would be used in fine-tuning the system and giving it a final shape, Khurshid said, without disclosing the names of the companies which have been put under the scanner.

On the effectiveness of the system to prevent a Satyam-like fraud which went on undetected for years, the minister said, “essentially I put it like a medical test... lipid profile test to tell if your lipid profile is going wrong so that you step in immediately.” After the multi-crore Satyam fraud, which went on for several years till its founder B Ramalinga Raju disclosed it, the ministry decided to set up a system to pick up early signals of misconduct and take preventive measures.

Scrutinising results

With the EWS, ministry sources said, the government would look for unusual developments by scrutinising quarterly results of companies, their public announcements, filings with exchanges, tax returns, media reports etc. and detect wrong doings.  The objective of the EWS would be to develop a permanent system for scanning everybody, Khurshid said.

“But before that we need to know that what we are trying doing is correct... we must not appear like we are spying on people. “There is legitimate area of enquiry and information and there is an area where you have to draw a line. We can’t go looking into business decisions of people because business secrets and confidentiality are important,” he added.

However, the EWS will monitor those information “which the public has the right to know, which are in the public domain and which can give indications of performance...after all that’s how people judge performance in the marketplace.”

Sometimes, it is possible that the EWS may provide a wrong signal, he said, adding, “it may not turn out to be anything; it may be a false alarm; (but) it may be something that is honestly a breakthrough that has been found...all we need to do is to be sure out that it is a breakthrough and not a fault.”

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