Mumbai: The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has authorised its regional unit to initiate proceedings against nine auditors and audit partners including BSR Co. and Deloitte Haskins & Sells (DHS) and bar them after they were charged with colluding with the management of IL&FS Financial Services and fraudulently falsifying its books of accounts.
The ministry asked its regional director (western region) to include the auditors in the ongoing proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal by making them co-respondents and seek interim attachment of their properties.
The regional director is authorised to initiate proceedings under section 140 (5) of the Companies Act before NCLT against DHS, BSR, Udayan Sen, Kalpesh Mehta, Sampath Ganesh, Shrenik Baid, Rakesh Jain, Nishit Udani, Anju Rawat, Payal Rathod, AP Shah and AP Shah and Associates “for their role in perpetuating the fraud and seek debarment,” the ministry said in an order dated May 29.
The regional director was told to include the auditors in the proceedings under sections 241 and 242 of the Companies Act pending before the NCLT and seek interim attachment of their movable and immovable properties, “including lockers, bank accounts and jointly held properties.”
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office, which filed charges against the auditors in the probe into Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services, has been directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings against them before the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the National Financial Reporting Authority.
The SFIO filed charges against 30 individuals and entities, including the statutory auditors and audit partners, with fraud under section 447 of the Companies Act and sections pertaining to cheating under the Indian Penal Code.
The SFIO alleged that the auditors “connived, colluded with the coterie” to conceal material information and fraudulently falsified the books of accounts and thereby financial statements from FY13-14 to FY17-18. It said they “knowingly did not report the true state of affairs of the company,” particularly the negative net owned funds and the negative capital to risk asset ratio, which resulted in losses for those who invested in its non-convertible debentures.