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Asian Financial Statement Analysis: Detecting Financial Irregularities by Howard Schilit, Thomas R. Robinson, ChinHwee Tan

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INTRODUCTION

“It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.”

Ramalinga Raju, founder and former chairman of Satyam

Satyam, founded in 1987, was one of the largest information technology (IT) consultancies in the world. Then a stock darling of India, the company boasted of board members from the “who's who” of the Indian community; nevertheless, its fall from grace was swift and terminal with this letter:

Dear Board Members, it is with deep regret and tremendous burden that I am carrying on my conscience that I would like to bring the following facts to your notice….

So began Ramalinga Raju, founder and former chairman of Satyam, in his resignation letter as he confessed to cooking the books in January 2008, admitting that real profit and cash positions of Satyam were over 90 percent lower than the figures in the accounts. Satyam's share price collapsed about 90 percent within days. There is an idiom in Chinese, Qi Hu Nan Xia (image) telling of the difficulties of dismounting a tiger—clearly, the tiger got the better of Raju.

Today, Satyam operates as a subsidiary of Tech Mahindra Limited after its takeover, subsequent to the unraveling of its fraudulent accounts, by the Mahindra Group in 2009. The company's consolidated 2013 revenues exceed US$2.7 billion, making it one of India's five largest IT services companies. The combined firm today houses 84,000 ...

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