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8-year-trouble for Satyam for corporate espionage

8-year-trouble for Satyam for corporate espionage

World Bank accuses company of data theft, bribing bank officials.

New Delhi: Satyam Computers' cup of woes seems to be overflowing, with the World Bank debarring it for eight years for alleged data theft and bribing bank officials.

Fox News, a US-based broadcaster, said the World Bank has admitted to it that it had banned Satyam from all business at the bank for a period of eight years—and that the ban started in September.

Satyam had allegedly installed spy software on workstations inside the bank's Washington headquarters resulting in theft of sensitive financial data, Fox News said, quoting Robert Van Pulley, the top World Bank's information security official.

The debarment—the harshest sanction the world's largest anti-poverty agency has imposed on any company since 2004—was meted out for "improper benefits to bank staff" and "lack of documentation on invoices," the broadcaster said on its website.

In 2005, the bank's chief information officer, Mohamed Muhsin, was ousted after being accused of improperly buying preferential stock options from Satyam, even as he awarded the firm major contracts, the report said.

Fox News also reported that the bank did not make the admission in public. Instead, Van Pulley made the comments in a meeting and two telephone conversations with officials of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a 30-year-old non-profit public interest group based in Washington.

Satyam has been embroiled in a spate of controversies following its failed bid to take over promoter group companies Maytas Infra and Matyas Properties at $1.6 billion.

Worsening matters for Satyam Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju, Britain-based client Upaid filed an injunction in a US court last week against him and two top officials, alleging that the Maytas bid was an attempt to siphon off surplus money in case Satyam lost a suit that it is battling with Upaid.

There was no statement in this regard from Satyam.

first published:December 23, 2008, 22:46 IST