The initial investigations by the Registrar of Companies (RoC) into the Satyam scam have revealed large-scale selling of the company's shares by institutional investors just days ahead of Ramalinga Raju's startling confession of cooking up of company accounts.
Highly placed official sources said that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) instituted to probe the scam would closely scrutinize some of these transactions since they have raised the suspicion of possible insider trading.
While the sources said there might be 'glaring evidence' of insider trading, corporate affairs minister P C Gupta refused to comment, while insisting that 'action would be taken against whoever is found guilty as per provisions of law'. The sales took place after the Satyam-Maytas merger fiasco which, too, might have encouraged these big players to exit the IT major. The sources said five sales between December 23 and January 5, totaling 2.45 crore shares are particularly under the scanner. These sales were all involving shares pledged by the Raju family with various entities to raise loans. All of them were conducted through IL&FS Trust Company as a trustee for these debenture holders and lenders.
On December 23, DSP Merrill Lynch sold 39 lakh shares on a day when the average price on NSE was Rs 146.80 per share. Interestingly, DSP Merrill Lynch was less than a week later appointed by Satyam to consider strategic options for the company following criticism of the aborted Maytas acquisition bid.
On the same day, as well as the next, December 24, DSP Blackrock sold a little over 74 lakh shares of Satyam. The share averaged Rs 125.88 on Dec 24. Around a week later, on Dec 29 and 30, Deutsche Bank sold over 47 lakh shares at a time when the scrip was bouncing back somewhat, averaging Rs 146.66 and Rs 156.72 respectively.
On January 2, HDFC Mutual Fund offloaded 50 lakh shares. Satyam's price averaged Rs 177.10 on that day, still on its way up from the lows it had touched just a few weeks earlier, but several times the price it would be commanding just a week later.