Riches to Rags indian riches to rags list

Riches to Rags: 7 Wealthy Indians who lost their Fortune!

List of Wealthy Indians who went from Riches to Rags: Although it shouldn’t come as a surprise, we regularly see Billionaires who also can be horrible at managing their wealth. The answers as to why this happens are always in plain sight as most of these billionaires can be caught flaunting their wealth regularly. They can range from greed, obsession, etc.

Today we take a look at Seven Riches to Rags Indian billionaires who somehow managed to squander away their fortunes which otherwise would have taken lifetimes.

List of 7 Indians who went from Riches to Rags

1. Anil Ambani

Anil ambani Riches to Rags listAnil Ambani is the chairman of the Reliance Group. He was born into luxury, unlike his father who created his own wealth. After his fathers’ death and a property tussle with his brother Mukesh Anil came out on top. In the year 2008, Anil was named the Sixth richest in the world. The years that followed resulted in the one-time richest Indian somehow losing all his wealth.

He is currently fighting off multiple cases for dues owed. Anil currently claims that he is worth nothing and was recently avoided jail with the help of bail provided by his brother unlike other stories on this list.

2. Ramesh Chandra

Ramesh ChandraAn IIT alumni Ramesh Chandra set up Unitech a real estate company in 1971. Thanks to the real estate boom Unitech was now the second-largest real estate company worth $32 Billion.  He along with his sons had a net worth of 11 Billion in 2007  that was until the Recession of 2008 hit. It was due to the recession that the company began to stagnate.

Further, it was here when Chandra made another grave error of entering the telecom sector. Although Unitech was well received by the consumers’ news soon broke out of its involvement in the 2G scam which involved bribing government officials for spectrum licenses. The failing real estate its involvement in the scam led to his sons Sanjay and Ajay Chandra being arrested. 

3. Subrata Roy

Subrata RoySubrata Roy at the helm of Sahara was a larger than life figure. He even named among the top 10 most powerful people in India by India Today. Roy was instrumental in building one of the biggest business empires and India’s Second largest employer.

All his fame eroded when news broke of the Sahara Chit Fund Scam amounting to Rs. 24,000 crores. Subrata Roy convicted and lodged in Tihar Jail for 2 years. He was released on parole in 2017.

4. Ranbaxy Singh Brothers

Ranbaxy Singh Brothers

Ranbaxy Singh Brothers are the next name in our list of Riches to rags billionaires. Brothers Malvinder and Shivinder inherited a 33.5% stake in Ranbaxy a pharma company founded by their grandfather. They decided to sell their inheritance in 2008 for $2 Billion. Over the years that followed the brother made a series of bad investment decisions that eroded their wealth.

Their worst investment included a Rs. 3000 crore loan to spiritual guru Gurinder Singh dhillon. The duo today owe a combined due of 500 million. They are currently being sued for siphoning off billions from their financial company-Religare and healthcare company-Fortis.

5. Nirav Modi

Nirav ModiNirav Modi is a luxury diamond jeweler who was also featured on Forbes list billionaires in 2017 with a fortune of $1.8 billion. The Modi brand was one of the most famous in the world with his designs even being auctioned off at Sotheby’s.

In 2018 the news of a scam broke out when it was revealed that Modi had scammed PNB of 14,000 crores over the course of 7 years. Nirav Modi fled India after the news broke out and took refuge in London. His extradition proceedings are currently underway.

ALSO READ

Nirav Modi Scam – What Actually Happened in PNB Fraud?

6. Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya, a former billionaire popularly known as the King of Good Times. He inherited his fathers’ liquor business at the age of 28 and went on to transform it into a multibillion-dollar business. Trouble started brewing for Mallya when he decided to venture into the airline sector with Kingfisher Airlines. Although the Airline took off well it soon faced trouble after the 2008 Recession.

In a desperate need for funds, Mallya duped banks for loans by placing weak collaterals. Once it was evident that Kingfisher had sunk despite his efforts, the news of the Rs. 9,000 crore scam broke out. Mallya fled the country and is currently seeking refuge in the UK. Proceedings to extradite him are underway.

ALSO READ

Vijay Mallya Scam Demystified | Vijay Mallya Case Study

7. Ramalinga Raju

Ramalinga Raju

Ramalinga Raju founded Satyam Computers Services Ltd in 1987. Raju went on to build it into the fourth largest IT software exporter in the country with the firm worth $2billion in 2008. In order to siphon off funds from the company, Raju began manipulating the financial records to give the impression that the company was growing well. In reality, funds were simply being taken out and being invested in real estate.

This was done in hopes of making a profit on the sales of property at higher prices but the recession of 2008 hit the real estate markets hard tarnishing Raju’s plan forcing him to come clean. Raju along with his brothers and 7 other was sentenced to prison.

Closing Thoughts

“It doesn’t matter how much money you can earn, what matters is how much you can keep.”

According to Forbes, India has 102 Billionaires as of 2020. Compared to the previous year 2019, the count of billionaires has dropped (106 in 2019). Obviously not all billionaires are able to keep their growth trajectory and status. Nevertheless, going from Billions to rags is a totally different story.

In this post, we tried to cover the list of Popular Wealthy Indians who went from Riches to Rags. In any case, if we missed any popular name, feel free to comment below. Have a great day and take care!

satyam scam story accounting fraud

Satyam Scam – The Story of India’s Biggest Corporate Fraud!

A Case Study on ‘Satyam Scam’ Accounting Scandal: When the 2008 recession hit the world, India was only going through a financial crisis but also an ethical crisis. Imagine a hypothetical scenario in the stock market where the very basic financials provided to you by a company are manipulated. This was what happened with Satyam Computer Services.

The Satyam scam was finally exposed early in 2009. Analysts dubbed the scam as India’s own Enron. Today, we take a look at the scandal that hit the nation in the midst of a recession was carried out, its effects, and how it was dealt with.

satyam computers

The Flawless Public Facade

Satyam Computer Services Ltd was founded in 1987 in Hyderabad by brothers, Rama Raju and Ramalinga Raju (henceforth Raju). The name in the ancient Indian language Sanskrit meant ‘Truth’. The firm began with 20 employees offering IT and BPO services across various sectors.

The initial success of the company soon led to it getting listed and opting for an IPO in the BSE in 1991. Post this the company soon got its first Fortune 500 client- Deere and Co. This further allowed the business to grow rapidly into becoming one of the top players in the market.

Satyam soon became the fourth largest IT software exporter in the industry after TCS, Wipro, and Infosys. 

Ramalinga Raju Satyam Scam

At the peak of its success, Satyam employed more than 50,000 employees and operated in 60+ countries. Satyam was now seen as the prime example of an Indian Success story. Its financials too were perfect. The firm was worth $1billion in 2003. Satyam soon went on to cross the $2billion mark in 2008.

During this period the company had a CAGR of 40%, operating profits averaging 21% with a 300% increase in its stock price. Satyam was now an example to other companies as well. It was showered with accolades from MZ Consult for being a ‘leader in Indian Corporate Governance and Accountability, the ‘Golden Peacock Award’ for Corporate Accountability in 2008. Mr. Raju too was revered in the industry for his business acumen and was awarded the Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2008. 

Late in 2008, the board of Satyam decided to takeover Maytas a real estate company owned by Mr. Raju. This did not sit well with the shareholders which led to the decision being reversed in 12 hours, impacting the stock price. On December 23rd the World Bank barred Satyam from doing business with any of the banks’ direct contacts for a period of 8 years.

This was one of the most severe penalties imposed by the World Bank against an Indian outsourcing company. The World Bank had alleged that Satyam had failed to maintain documentation to support fees charged to its subcontractors and the company also provided improper benefits to the banks’ staff.

But were these allegations true? At this point, Satyam was India’s crown jewel! Just 2 days later Satyam replied demanded the World Bank to explain itself and also apologize as its actions had damaged Satyams investor confidence.

Satyam Scam: What was behind the Curtains?

As the investors were still coping up with the failed acquisition of Maytas and the allegations by the World Bank on January 7th, 2009 the markets received the resignation by Mr. Raju and along with it a confession that he had manipulated accounts of Rs. 7000 crores. Investors and clients all around the World were left shocked. This just couldn’t be happening!

In order to understand the scam, we would have to go back to 1999. Mr. Raju had begun inflating the quarterly profits in order to meet the analyst expectations. For eg the results announced on October 17, 2009, overstated quarterly revenues by 75% and profits by 97%. Raju had done this along with the company’s global head for internal audit.

Mr. Raju used his personal computer to create a number of bank statements in order to inflate the balance sheet with cash that simply did not exist. The company’s global head for internal audit created fake customer identities and fake invoices in order to inflate the revenue. This, in turn, would allow the company easy access to loans and the impression of its success led to an increase in the share price.

Also, the cash that the company had raised from the markets in the US never even made to the balance sheets. But this was not sufficient for Raju, he went onto create records for fake employees and would withdraw salaries on their behalf.

The increased share price drove Raju to get rid of as many shares as possible and maintain just enough to be a part of the company. This allowed Raju to make profits from their sales at high prices. He also withdrew $3 million every month as salaries on behalf of employees that did not exist.

Satyam Maytas

But where did all this money go? Although Raju had set up a great IT company, he was also interested in the real estate business. The real estate business in the early 2000s was booming in Hyderabad. It was also rumored that Raju knew the plan(route) for a metro that was to be built in Hyderabad. The foundation of the metro plans was laid in the year 2003. Raju soon diverted all the money into real estate with hopes to make a good profit once the metro was functional. He also set up a real estate company called Maytas.

But unfortunately, just like every other sector the real estate sector too was hit badly during the recession of 2008. By then almost a decade of manipulation of the financial statements had led to the hugely overstated assets and underreported liabilities. Nearly $1.04billion in bank loans and cash that the books showed was nonexistent. The gap was simply too big to fill!

By now whistleblowing attempts were also starting to arise. Company director Krishna Palepu received anonymous mails by the alias Joseph Abraham. The mail exposed the fraud. Palepu forwarded it to another director and to S. Gopalkrishnan a partner at PwC – their auditor. Gopalkrishnan assured Palepu that there were no truths in the mail and a presentation would be held before the audit committee in order to assure him on 29th December. The date was later revised to 10th January 2009. 

Despite this Raju had a last resort. The plan included a takeover of Maytas by Satyam which would bridge the gap that had accumulated over the years. The new financials would justify that the cash had been used to purchase Maytas. But this plan was foiled after shareholder opposition. This forced Raju to put himself at the mercy of the law. Raju later mentioned It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.

Satyam Scam: How Raju was able to get away with the Scandal?

The next big question while studying this big scandal is how was Ramalinga Raju able to get away with Satyam Scam in a company of over 50,000 employees?

The answer to this lies in the miserable failure of PriceWaterhouseCoopers(PwC) their auditor. PwC was the external auditors to the company and it was their duty to examine the financial records and ensure that they are accurate. It is surprising how they did not notice 7561 fake bills after auditing Satyam for almost 9 years.

There were multiple red flags that the auditors could have caught upon. Firstly a simple check with the banks would have revealed that the bills were not valid and the cash balances were overstated. Secondly, any company with that big of cash reserves as Satyam would at least invest them in an interest yielding account.

But that was not the case here. Despite these obvious signs, PwC seemed to be looking the other way. Suspicion towards PwC was later increased when it was found out that they were paid twice the fees for their services. 

PwC was not able to detect the fraud for almost 9 years but Merrill Lynch discovered the fraud as part of their due diligence in merely 10 days.

The Aftermath of Satyam Scam Exposure

Two days after the confession was made Raju was arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, breach of trust, and forgery. The shares fell to Rs.11.50 on that day compared to heights of Rs.544 in 2008. The CBI raided the house of the youngest Raju sibling where 112 sales deeds to different land purchases were found. The CBI also found 13,000 fake employee records created in Satyam and claimed that the scam amounted to over Rs. 7000 crores.

PwC initially claimed that their failure to catch the fraud was due to the reliance placed by them on information provided by the management. PwC was found guilty and its license was temporarily revoked for 2 years. Investors too became vary of other companies audited by PwC. This resulted in their share prices of these companies falling by 5-15%. The news of the scam led to the Sensex falling by 7.3%

Mahindra Satyam

The Indian stock markets were now in turmoil. The Indian government realizing the impact this could have on the stock markets and future FDIs immediately spurted to action. They began investigating and quickly appointed a new board to Satyam. The board’s goal was to sell the company within the next 100 days.

With this aim, the board appointed Goldman Sachs and Avendus Capital to help fast track the sale. SEBI appointed retired SC justice Barucha to oversee the transaction in order to instill trust. Several companies bid on April 13, 2009. The winning bid was placed by Tech Mahindra who went onto buy Satyam for 1/3rd of its value before the fraud was revealed.

On 4th November 2011, bail was granted to Raju and two others accused. In 2015 Raju, his 2 brothers, and 7 others were sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Also read: 3 Past Biggest Scams That Shook Indian Stock Market!

Closing Thoughts

There has been no scam that affected the CA and audit firms like the Satyam Scam. The increasing nature of these scams has made dependence on such professionals much more crucial highlighting the importance of ethics and CG in their roles.

White-collared crimes like these do not only make the company look bad but also the industry and the country.