“Who’ll Invest In India If Scams Like This Happen?”: Judge In NSE Case

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“Who will invest in India with scams like this,” judge said in frustration today about the sensational case involving deep corruption at the National Stock Exchange (NSE).

Reprimanding the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for not moving fast enough, the judge Sanjeev Aggarwal pointed out that four years have lapsed since the agency began studying the wrongdoings involving the exchange’s top officials including then CEO Chitra Ramakrishna. She was arrested on March 6 from Chennai; her then adviser, Anand Subramanian, was arrested on February 24.

The country’s markets regulator, SEBI, should also be investigated to determine if it took any action to block and then punish the corruption, the CBI court said today.

The NSE was the country’s biggest bourse.

In 2018, a select group of traders were allegedly given unfair access to NSE’s servers to speed up algorithmic trading – this allowed them to transact earlier than other traders.

CBI officials have in recent weeks visited market regulator SEBI’s office in Mumbai to collect documents related to the case.

What is known as the “server case” turned into a high-drama headline a few weeks ago with the discovery that Chitra Ramkrishna, while in charge of the NSE, shared confidential information with someone she described as a Himalayan yogi. Emails show her seeking advice from the same outsider.

This was highlighted in a February 11 order by SEBI that highlighted corporate governance lapses at the exchange.

The SEBI order said the former CEO “arbitrarily” appointed Anand Subramanian as her adviser, adding he had “no relevant experience”. He was given the role of Chief Advisor to MD of NSE along with a salary vastly disproportionate with his experience.

Chitra Ramkrishna told SEBI during the probe she did not compromise integrity of the exchange.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the government is looking at whether SEBI took adequate action in the NSE matter.

The regulatory order said Chitra Ramkrishna — who quit as CEO in 2016 — was “merely a puppet” of someone she described as an unnamed yogi in Himalayas who “would manifest at will”. SEBI has said the former CEO made “incorrect and misleading submission” about the existence of a yogi. Ernst and Young Audit had said that the yogi was none other than Anand Subramanian.

CBI has also told the court that the agency’s investigation has revealed that it was Anand Subramanian who created the email ID ‘[email protected]’ thorough which he was communicating with Chitra Ramakrishna.

Agency has also told the court that Chitra Ramakrishna introduced non-existent person (referring to Yogi) to mislead the investigation.

The NSE, started in 1994, says it is the world’s biggest derivatives exchange in terms of total number of contracts traded. Chitra Ramkrishna joined NSE in the early 1990s.

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