India's capital market regulator has barred Price Waterhouse from auditing listed companies in the country for two years for its involvement in India's biggest corporate fraud case. B Ramalinga Raju, founder of the erstwhile IT firm Satyam Computer Services, shocked India's business sector in January 2009 when he admitted to overstating profits and carrying out fraudulent accounting of more than 1 billion dollars. Price Waterhouse were the company's auditors during the financial scandal.
In its order issued late Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Board of India said entities or firms practising as chartered accountants in India under the brand and banner of Price Waterhouse shall not issue any certificate of audit of listed companies and intermediaries for two years.
"The network structure of operations adopted by the international accounting firm should not be used as a shield to avoid legal implications arising out of the certifications issued under the brand name of the network," SEBI said in the order. The Price Waterhouse network, an affiliate of Britain-based Price Waterhouse Coopers group, comprises 11 partnership firms in India. Price Waterhouse denied having a role in the irregularities and said it was confident of getting the order suspended by the court. The trial in the fraud case ended in 2015 with seven years' jail for Raju. Satyam was acquired by India's Mahindra Group of companies in a government-overseen auction in 2009 and has since stabilized.