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FT's exchanges abroad under lens

Laxity in enforcing KYC and allied norms suspected; money laundering gaps also on probe panel's mind

Rajesh Bhayani & Sanjeeb Mukherjee  |  Mumbai/ New Delhi 

Jignesh Shah
Jignesh Shah

The role of global exchanges floated by the Financial Technologies group has also come under the government’s scanner.

Several investors are said to be holding positions on the Multi Commodity Exchange, while the same investors were offered similar positions on international exchanges floated by the Financial Technologies group, to take arbitrage advantage. While these facilities were offered by brokers, the government is looking at whether there was any laxity on the part of these overseas exchanges floated by the FT group regarding Know Your Clients (KYC) or other processes.

If such linkages are found, that would be also considered violation of the foreign exchange and money laundering laws.

“The government is now looking at pare trades in FTIL-controlled exchanges NSEL, MCX and also exchanges owned by it outside India,” said a government official. The FT group had floated Bahrain Financial Exchange, Singapore Mercantile Exchange and Dubai Gold and Commodity Exchange. All these three have been offering gold contracts.

An FT spokesperson said, “We’ve not received any communication from any authorities/regulators on such investigations and, hence, cannot comment.”

A sector official said investors and traders having positions abroad without the knowledge of the Indian authorities had been happening and these also hold positions in other names, with US-based Comex and the London Metal Exchange being common destinations. In those exchanges, Indian authorities have no say but they are investigating this.

Officials in the know said one of the high-powered working groups constituted by the government on the NSEL crisis, headed by the RBI deputy governor, was looking into the possibility of money laundering among firms trading on this exchange, MCX and also exchanges in foreign lands controlled by FTIL. "All these possibilities are within the realm of the committee and working groups constituted by the government on August 26 and we are looking at the matter from every possible issue and involving all sister-concerns of NSEL," a senior official said.

The chain of exchanges, domestic and global, are under the scanner of other regulators as well, following the forward Commission (FMC)’s warning to the NSEL board that their ‘fit and proper’ status was at risk. The warning was given by the regulator last week, after NSEL defaulted on its commitment to make the first week’s agreed payout.

A former regulator told Business Standard, “Once the promoter loses s status as a fit and proper person to run the exchange, other regulators have to reconsider if promoters of the entities regulated by them have the same promoter that have lost this status. Global regulators generally follow.” So, if the NSEL promoters lose their fit and proper status there, the commodity, stock and power exchanges set up by the same promoters might face similar action.

A source in FMC said, “The decision to withdraw the fit and proper status on the NSEL board of directors is under consideration and task forces appointed by the government will also look into it, as it has implications for other regulators, too.”

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First Published: Sat, August 31 2013. 00:52 IST