Regulator, CIC were in court battle over disclosing names
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has named Reliance Industries and 12 other related entities in the list of 149 firms and individuals whose consent applications had been rejected.
In a late-evening release on Thursday, the market regulator said their consent applications, which were like out-of-court settlements to close disputes with offenders in the securities market, had been rejected, as those were not found to be in consonance with the recently introduced laws that defined the eligibility criteria for such settlements.
Sebi’s disclosure of the name of the entities involved in the RIL insider trading case — the first time ever — comes ahead of a Bombay High Court hearing later this month. The regulator is fighting a case with the Central Information Commission (CIC) in the court against its order asking the market watchdog to make public the details of the RIL insider trading case.
The insider trading case against RIL and the 12 entities is that of insider trading that dates backs to 2007, when RIL had allegedly sold stock futures of Reliance Petroleum just ahead of the company’s merger with itself.
When contacted, Reliance Industries declined to comment on the issue.
In its consent criteria rules, introduced in May 2012, Sebi had prohibited the use of monetary settlement in insider trading cases.
Meanwhile, a PTI report on Thursday said RIL had approached the Securities Appellate Tribunal against Sebi, which had issued showcause notices to the corporate giant with regard to certain alleged irregularities in its share dealings. SAT had earlier scheduled admission of RIL’s appeal against Sebi for tomorrow but the tribunal has now adjourned the hearing to January 11.
The Sebi release said the RIL-related entities were Reliance Ports & Terminals, LPG Infrastructure, Vinamra Universal Traders, Gujarat Petcoke, Relogistics (Rajasthan), Relogistics (India), Relpol Plastic Products, Darshan Sec, Fine Tech Commercials, Sharti Investment, Aarthik Commercials and Mo Tech Software.
The CIC directive was based on an appeal filed by the Bangalore-based lawyer and RTI activist Arun Agarwal. The RTI activist had sought from Sebi information on the consent order proceedings and identities of the entities involved in the alleged insider trading case.
Sebi’s chief public information officer had earlier refused to share these details with Agarwal under right to information on the grounds that investigations and quasi judicial proceedings were pending.
Agarwal on Thursday said: “The better-late-than-never action of Sebi should not be allowed to be a damp squib by letting the company escape with a token penalty in adjudication proceedings.”
Besides RIL, the other firms and entities whose consent applications have been rejected include HSBC Investdirect, India Infoline, Tauranis of Tips and GMR Holdings.
Sebi has also rejected the consent application of Nilesh Kapadia, a former dealer of HDFC Mutual Fund who was pulled up by the regulator for front-running.
The regulator has said consent applications by Manoj H Modi, Smita Modi, Alaska Mercantile and Reliance Petroinvestments in the alleged insider trading case involving the erstwhile Indian Petrochemicals Corp have been rejected.
Nominated to post by Sebi, takes over as public interest director