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Former Chairman, Satyam Computer Services (India)
"It is with deep regret and tremendous burden that I am carrying on my concsience, that I would like to bring the following facts to your notice." So began a shocking Jan. 7 letter from B. Ramalinga Raju, longtime chairman of Satyam Computer Services, India's fourth-largest IT company. In a case that some liken to that of accused Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, Raju shocked the country by admitting to one of the biggest corporate frauds in Indian history. Raju confessed that for years Satyam had been inflating its numbers. "The gap in the balance sheet has arisen purely on account of inflated profits over a period of [the] last several years," he wrote. "It has attained unmanageable proportions." Just how big was the fraud? According to Raju's letter, $1 billion in fictitious cash.
The announcement came just three weeks after a botched attempt to use Satyam shareholder funds to buy out Raju’s sons' real estate companies. Despite the anger among investors about that deal, the Raju confession still came as a shock, and investors sent Satyam’s Mumbai-listed shares plunging 78% after his announcement. Regulators and investigators are now working to unearth more details of the fraud, and Raju faces a possible prison term.
The Raju case is the biggest scandal yet to hit Asia from the current global financial crisis. But Asian business and political leaders have not been immune from other scandals. Here's a look at some of the most notable ones in the region over the past few years. Some of the accused have been convicted, others found innocent, and others are still awaiting their day in court.