What is SFIO?

What is SFIO?

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) will initiate a probe into alleged financial irregularities at Fortis Healthcare and Religare...

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) will initiate a probe into alleged financial irregularities at Fortis Healthcare and Religare Enterprises, according to a senior official. The corporate affairs ministry has been looking into the affairs of Fortis Healthcare and Religare Enterprises after recent reports that financial irregularities have emerged at the two companies.

A senior ministry official said an SFIO probe has been ordered against the two companies. The latest development comes against the backdrop of reports that the Fortis Healthcare’s promoters —Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh—took at least $78 million out of the company without any board approval about a year ago.

SFIO is a multi-disciplinary organization under Ministry of Corporate Affairs, consisting of experts in the field of accountancy, forensic auditing, law, information technology, investigation, company law, capital market and taxation for detecting and prosecuting or recommending for prosecution white-collar crimes/frauds. SFIO has head office in New Delhi and regional offices in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal Amardeep Singh Bhatia, IAS is Director, SFIO.

It owes its genesis to the recommendations of Naresh Chandra Committee that : i) A Corporate Serious Fraud Office should be set up in the Department of Company Affairs with specialists inducted on the basis of transfer/deputation and on special term contracts; ii) This should be in the form of a multi-disciplinary team that not only uncovers the fraud, but able to direct and supervise prosecutions under various economic legislations through appropriate agencies; iii) There should be a Task Force constituted for each case under a designated team leader; iv) In the interest of adequate control and efficiency, a Committee each, headed by the Cabinet Secretary should directly oversee the appointments to, and functioning of this office, and coordinate the work of concerned departments and agencies; and v) Later, a legislative framework, along with the lines of the SFO in the UK, should be set up to enable the CSFO to investigate all aspects of the fraud, and direct the prosecution in appropriate Courts.

Consequent to the recommendation of Naresh Chandra Committee and in the backdrop of stock market scams as also the failure of non-banking companies resulting in huge financial loss to the public, the Cabinet in its meeting held on 9th January, 2003, decided to set up a Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).

As per the decisions of the Cabinet, the Central Government issued a resolution on 2nd July, 2003 constituting this organisation. The SFIO shall investigate serious cases of fraud received from Department of Company Affairs. SFIO may also take up cases on its own. The SFIO would make investigations under the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 and would also forward the investigated reports on violations of the provisions of other acts to the concerned agencies for prosecution/appropriate action. d) Whether or not an investigation should be taken up by the SFIO would be decided by the Director, SFIO who will be expected to record the reasons in writing. These decisions will be further subject to review by a coordination committee.

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