Two-year bar on Pricewaterhouse


Though the order comes into effect immediately, it will not be applied to any audit assignments relating to the 2017-18 financial year undertaken by firms in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers network, to ease "operational difficulties", SEBI said.

"We have however learnt the lessons of Satyam and invested heavily over the last nine years in building a robust and high-quality audit practice, as also confirmed in 2015 by an independent monitor appointed by the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)", Price Waterhouse added.

PwC, and several entities associated with the audit firm, have been banned from auditing any listed entity for two years.

The order said that auditor should have applied an attitude of professional skepticism and got carried away by the company's reputation. The regulator had also asked PW to pay Rs 13.09 crore, along with annual interest at 12% from January 2009.

SEBI also restrained Gopalakrishnan and Talluri from directly or indirectly issuing any certificate of audit for listed companies or compliance of obligations for listed companies and intermediaries registered with the market regulator for three years. "The objective of insulating the securities market from such fraudulent accounting practices perpetrated by an global firm of repute will be ineffective if the directions do not bring within its sweep the brand name PW", Sebi said in a 108-page order.

In India, all audit functions within the group are conducted under the Price Waterhouse (PW) brand, with a network of local firms operating under the banner.

"As we have said since 2009, there has been no intentional wrongdoing by PW firms in the unprecedented management perpetrated fraud at Satyam, nor have we seen any material evidence to the contrary", Price Waterhouse said in a statement.

The Satyam scam was unearthed in 2009, after the then Chairman of Satyam B Ramalinga Raju admitted in a letter to overstating the company's assets by Rs5,040cr. The company was bought by Tech Mahindra, another outsourcing company. It doesn't include 2017/18 audits for listed companies which are already in progress.

"They might lose a lot of business on the other sides, not just audit, and they have to report it in other jurisdictions".

In a 108-page statement, SEBI said that the manner in which various entities bearing the PwC name had been registered in India in a "nebulous way", made it hard not to take notice of the "loss of faith of the investors in the brand name".