Pot Calling Kettle Black !

The Financial Times of London published on 8th January a piece titled ” Satyam Scandalises”.  The FT provides its own insights on the huge Satyam Fraud. The FT in the opening para of this article said : “India is rarely as shiny as its fans insist. The $1bn fraud perpetrated by Satyam Computer Services will not only throw the $40bn software and outsourcing industry into a tailspin, it will also raise disturbing questions about the risks of doing business in India – and even the sustainability of the country’s much-vaunted growth miracle.”  This I call fishing in troubled waters.

The very next day, on 9th January, the Llyods TSB Bank Plc, a UK Corporation headquartered in London admitted to committing a series of serious fraud ( spanning some 12 years !!) that also raises disturbing questions about the risks of doing business in the UK. The Lloyds TSB Bank plc (Lloyds) has agreed to forfeit $350 million to the United States and to the New York County District Attorney’s Office for committing the crime of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The IEEPA issues regulations that prohibit exportation of services from the United States to certain notified countries including Iran & Sudan.

What did Lloyd Bank do ? Like Ramalinga Raju, they fudged transactions for almost a dozen years.Lloyd Bank, committed the crime of deliberately removing material informations from proscribed transactions that would have identified the violators of the IEEPA. Lloyd removed the names of customers,banks and their addresses      ( stripping / repairing as they call it) from international wire transfers that prevented the US authorities from scrutinising these transactions and detect violations of IEEPA.  Lloyd’s conduct is believed to have the potential of financing terrorist activities.

Raju’s conduct is a national shame and he has let us down.Even the Gods will not pardon him for denting the pride of Indian entrepreneurship.  I am not saying that all Indian business men are paragons of virtue. But a broad brush approach is mischievous.

I know our British friends always enjoy pouring oil on a burning fire or rub salt on deep wounds. Speaking of double standards, our erstwhile colonial rulers revel in it.  My two cents of advise – Charity begins at home.

6 thoughts on “Pot Calling Kettle Black !

  1. Thank you for the article Ranga.

    One of the ill-effects of technology is the “ease” with which one can try to take advantage of the system. It shows clearly in the case of Satyam and Lloyds and many more such instances how the “systems” were taken advantage of using the power of technology.

    So, no nation is immune to such threats.

    I agree that it is not wise for anyone of us to generalize based on “spot” incidents. However, unfortunately, that’s what people do.


  2. VVR,

    “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

    I think you are right in general, but you may have attacked the wrong demographic slice.

    The guilty party is not the British as a race, but the group identified by Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, as ‘Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.”

    I believe that in many countries, including your own, the media in most of its forms, tarts up the news and facts, and presents them in colours and dimensions that create both a more titillating story and also deliberately, a shade that irritates and invites outrage and comment. This gives them fame and fortune and sells more newspapers. A standard tactic is to ramp up a story and chuck it onto the table like a hand grenade with the pin out.

    Most rationale British observers will be aware that their racial brothers are as greedy, incompetent, devious and dishonest as many other sections of the business community in other countries.

    The only difference is that I think your brothers may be more sensitive to insult than the English who lost their self importance and pompous pride centuries ago to the French.

    I think your own press is not backward in stirring up a story …. I recall the masthead of one your newspapers reads “Journalism of Courage”. My observation was that this is a euphemism for “We Never Let Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story”.


  3. We all have our idiosyncrasies and predilections. But some facts are inalienable – India has steadily declining moral standards as evidenced by our lowly position in periodic surveys of the most corrupt nations. Our politicians and most satraps of family-owned firms consider it their birthright to pilfer and subvert public/company money for their personal benefit. And they have been given ample licence by the lethargic public and shareholder community (not to mention the corrupt bureaucracy) over the years. With this background I am pleasantly surprised (actually shocked!)that the shareholders are becoming so active and demanding corrective action. I hope we can sustain this momentum. I am sure the politicians are shocked too and their reaction has been tentative so far. It is rather amusing that they try and occupy such high moral ground when none of them really has any claim to morality! That said, I think the Pot calling the Kettle black is the right way to describe what you have brought to our attention. Greed is a universal phenomenon and as long as people think they can get away with it, they will try, regulations notwithstanding. Apart from what John has commented, I think there is also a hint of relief (and jealousy) that India is not becoming a runaway success that it certainly was, prior to the meltdown. I am not sure if Britain or Europe or indeed any country has worked out how to deal with a more successful India. It will be interesting to watch when the tide turns. We will be able to take more Satyams in our stride, but corruption if left untamed will continue to be a millstone around our neck.


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