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Reviewed by May 19, 2023| Updated on
Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), like the name suggests, is a fraud investigation agency set up to solve serious, complex frauds under the Companies Act, 2013. It is a statutory institution meant to resolve frauds in the central services and others.
The statutory was set up in 2003 after a resolution that resolves frauds under the Companies Act of 2003, under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The experts at the SFIO are responsible for detecting and resolving crimes while working in tandem with the Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Office came into force in the aftermath of the stock market scams throughout the 1990s until 2000s, that had cost the public and the government’s money, leading to the closure of many small and budding businesses too. The role of non-banking financial companies too was negligent, which the SFIO helped establish order in. To tackle these whitecollared crimes, Naresh Chandra Committee on Corporate Governance recommended the establishment of SFIO under the Vajpayee Government. SFIO is a multidisciplinary organization that has experts on forensic auditing, technology and IT, law and company law, taxation, capital markets, accountancy and more. The Director of the Office is close to the rank of a Joint Secretary to the GOI. Even when the company has no visible fraud, the SFIO looks into whether the Board is equitable, that there is no oppression on the minority shareholders.
SFIO cannot, by its own virtue, take up a case. The body only acts upon the order given by the Union Government. When the SFIO is active on the case, the investigation is stringent and vicious. SFIO also has the powers of arrest to arrest people from and involved in the fraud, though they’re specific to Director, Additional Director and Assistant Director. The prime cases handled by SFIO include the Satyam Scam and the Deccan Chronicle Holding Ltd (DCHL).