The twin trials of Madoff and Raju

December 10, 2008 – Former Nasdaq chairman Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme discovered by his sons and reported to federal authorities

December 11, 2008 – Bernard Madoff arrested, later put under house arrest

March 12, 2009 – Bernard Madoff confesses to $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Court verdict: Jail and faces maximum penalty of 150 years. Assets frozen and prosecutors eye wife’s assets as well.

January 7, 2009 – Satyam Chairman (now former) Ramalinga Raju self-confesses to Rs 7,800 crore scam

January 9, 2009 – Ramalinga Raju surrenders, arrested by Andhra Police (by the way, he had a date with Sebi next day)

March 14, 2009 – Newspaper reports suggest that Raju’s Madhapur den is being raided by CBI, implying there are a lot of loose ends still being tied up. And the fact that there are a number of agencies, including the Andhra police, CBI, Sebi and others investigating, things will not get any simpler.

Prima facie, two similar cases. Madoff ran a Ponzi scheme and conned investors. Raju conned investors who had bought his company’s shares by ‘cooking up a balance sheet’.

While the US government has already arrived at a number ($65 billion) for Madoff, we still have no idea about the money lost by investors in Raju’s case.  Perhaps, we will never know.

In Madoff’s instance, the case has been heard, the verdict given and is up for appeal. As for Raju, the buck is still passing around.

Newspaper reports suggest that Raju is living a raja’s life in his special cell. His brother Rama Raju is cooking food with help from (former CFO) Srinivas Vadlamani. Cooking accounts must have prepared them for this role anyway. They are even allowed limited quantities of cakes and biscuits (isn’t Raju diabetic?).

Meanwhile, his lawyers are busy telling the courts how the Rajus are suffering in jail, pestered by rats and bandicoots.
With several agencies waiting to charge him on different counts, all that Raju is likely to face is a lot of court hearings, as Sunny Deol famously said in Damini, ‘Tareeq pe tareeq’.

But the corrupt have never gone unpunished. After all, Sukh Ram was fined a princely Rs 2 lakh and sentenced to three years in jail… 13 years after the case was first reported.

Of course, it is a different matter altogether that many would not have even remembered why Sukh Ram was accused or fined. It is a tragedy that over the years, public amnesia has allowed many an issue to die a quiet death.

Raju too, will get his just desserts we hope… never mind if the dessert melts by then.