The Securities Appellate Tribunal has refused to grant a stay on the two-year SEBI ban on audit major Price Waterhouse to undertake new clients. On January 10, the markets watchdog SEBI had banned the auditor for its alleged complicity in the multi-crore Satyam scam.
SAT clarified that the audit major and its networking entities can continue serving its existing clients. On finding it guilty in the Satyam fraud, SEBI had passed an order on January 10, restraining PW and its network entities from issuing audit certificates to any listed company in the country for two years. Subsequently, PW and its network firms moved the tribunal against the SEBI order.
At the hearing today, SAT refused to stay the ban, saying it will hear the matter next on February 13. However, the two-member SAT bench observed that the SEBI order “shall not come in the way of audit assignments undertaken by PW and it network firms for fiscal 2017-18”.
The tribunal also clarified that audit assignments already undertaken by PW for clients who follow the financial year beginning on January 1, 2018 would not be impacted by the SEBI order. “Similarly PW shall be at liberty to complete any other work of certification (besides audit) already in their hands,” SAT said.
However, it said PW and its network firms “shall not take new assignments and new clients” adding that the audit firm has to submit a list of its existing clients before the tribunal as well as a copy of the same to SEBI. In a 108-page order SEBI had also directed disgorgement of over Rs 13 crore wrongful gains by the auditing major and its two erstwhile partners who worked on the IT company’s accounts.
SEBI has imposed a two-year ban on entities/firms practising as chartered accountants under the brand and banner of PW from directly or indirectly issuing any certificate of audit of listed companies, compliance of obligations of listed companies and intermediaries registered with the regulator.
Further, the two erstwhile partners, S Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Talluri, were restrained from directly or indirectly issuing any certificate of audit of listed companies, compliance of obligations of listed companies and intermediaries registered with SEBI for three years.
The matter is listed for further hearing on February 13.