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Police search Hyderabad offices of PwC

INDIAN police yesterday searched the Hyderabad offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers International Ltd, the auditors of the troubled outsourcing giant Satyam Computers, whose founder last week admitted to doctoring the company's accounts for years, an official said.

Satyam's balance sheets were riddled with "fictitious" assets and "non-existent" cash and contained a US$1-billion gap that could no longer be concealed after a deal intended to save the struggling company was abandoned, the outsourcing company's founder and former chairman B. Ramalinga Raju admitted in a letter to the company's board.

A senior police official, V.S. Kumudi, said that the offices of PwC in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad were being searched.

He gave no other details. Satyam is also headquartered in Hyderabad.

As the accounting scandal unfolded, the auditing firm said in a statement last week that they had worked "in accordance with applicable auditing standards and were supported by appropriate audit evidence."

"Given our obligations for client confidentiality, it is not possible for us to comment on the alleged irregularities. Pricewaterhouse will fully meet its obligations to cooperate with the regulators and others," according to the statement by PricewaterhouseCooper.

The auditors were not available for comment yesterday.

Some investors in Satyam are considering suing the auditing company, according to Ravi Nath, a lawyer with the Rajinder Narain law firm, which has been contacted by several investors.

Satyam Computer Services Ltd employs 53,000 people - among the 2 million Indians working in the country's booming high-tech industry, which last year brought in an estimated US$40 billion.

Satyam's clients include a slew of Fortune 500 companies including Nestle, General Electric and Ford Motors.


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