'SFIO should be armed with more powers'

"My opinion is that if you have the SFIO, it should have more teeth," Khursheed told PTI in his first interview after taking charge of the Ministry, which has been in the news for issues ranging from the new Companies Bill, corporate governance, and the financial scam in Satyam involving about Rs 10,000 crore.

However, he was quick to add that though it is desirable that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) should have more teeth, there is no case for duplicating the work.

Asked if the CBI's involvement could have been avoided had the SFIO been empowered, the Minister said "possibly yes" as there are issues that involve inter-state investigation and other related matters. If the Ministry had a fully empowered investigation wing, possibly the probe could have been been handled by it, he added.

Khursheed said that a Committee, constituted by the Ministry under the Chairmanship of former RBI Deputy Governor Vepa Kamesam, had earlier this month submitted its report, which had recommended more teeth to the SFIO and adequate infrastructure for the organisation.

In order to obviate wrangling between ministries, Khursheed said he would take the opinion of other ministries on empowering the SFIO.

"We want to take it (the issue of giving more teeth to the SFIO) to other ministries so that there is no duplication," the Minister added.

Following the disclosure of the accounting fraud by the founder of Satyam, B Ramalinga Raju, in January, the Corporate Affairs Minister ordered a probe into the scam by the SFIO.

The investigation arm last month submitted a 14,000-page report on the Satyam scam to the Ministry and recommended prosecuting six persons including Ramalinga Raju and his brother Rama Raju.
The SFIO is awaiting the nod of the Ministry to file prosecution proceedings in the Satyam case.
Meanwhile, the CBI, which also probed the scam, has filed its first charge sheet and is currently investigating other aspects of the fraud like overseas funding and insider trading at stock exchanges.
Having filed the first charge sheet within the stipulated 60 days, the CBI had approached the court again seeking permission for further prosecution.

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