PW to contest SEBI audit ban

PW to contest SEBI audit ban

Entities/firms and entities practicing as Chartered Accountants in India under the brand and banner of PwC shall not directly or indirectly issue any certificate of audit of listed companies, compliance of obligations of listed companies and intermediaries registered with SEBI and the requirements under the SEBI Act, 1992, the SCRA 1956, the Depositories Act, 1996, those provisions of the Companies Act 2013, which are administered by SEBI under section 24. thereof, the Rules, Regulations and Guidelines made under those Acts which are administered by SEBI for a period of two years. A major player in the auditing space, Price Waterhouse has a total of 11 network firms and employs around 3,000 people in India, reports the PTI. Currently, PW network firms carry out auditing activities for about 75 listed companies, an official in the know told the news agency.

Experts, however, said even if Price Waterhouse manages to get a court to issue a stay order on the SEBI ban, it faces the risk of losing clients. However, to remove operational difficulties, the order will not impact audit assignments relating to FY18 undertaken by firms forming a part of the PW network.

PW Bangalore, Gopalakrishnan and Talluri have been directed to disgorge wrongful gains of Rs 13.09 crore with an interest of 12% per annum from January 7, 2009, till the date of payment. The Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA) will examine SEBI's order, Union Minister PP Chaudhary said on January 11. It needs to be seen whether it would benefit the smaller firms or not, he added.

Price Waterhouse said in a statement it was disappointed with the findings of the SEBI investigations and the adjudication order. "Their interests are fully protected and we are hopeful of a positive verdict when we appeal against the Sebi order", said a senior PW executive.

The Satyam scandal broke in 2009 when the founder and chairman of Satyam Computers, Ramalinga Raju, confessed to embezzlement and said the company's accounts had been doctored.

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With the Sebi order now jeopardising its operations in India, the worldwide auditing giant claimed that Price Waterhouse Network firms in the country had learnt the lessons of Satyam and invested heavily over the last nine years in building a robust and high quality audit practice.

Shares of Satyam were also listed in the US.

"A common investor's reliance on the audit certifications of Satyam Computer at the relevant point of time was dependent on the fact that it was attested by one of the internationally reputed firms called PW".

Satyam, which was bought by Indian IT firm Tech Mahindra in an auction in 2010, and PricewaterhouseCoopers agreed in 2011 to pay a combined $17.5 million to settle US probes into the fraud.

The Indian authorities said that, from 2003 onwards, Satyam's sales revenues were inflated by accounting for 7,561 fake invoices, and Price Waterhouse failed to check the veracity of the monthly bank statements.

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