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NSEL scam: Sebi readies action against brokers, sees no ponzi

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

In the high-profile NSEL scam, capital markets regulator is readying to act against five brokers found to be involved in irregular activities even as it has ruled out any ponzi-angle or collective investment scheme in the trading model of the erstwhile spot exchange.

has also forwarded relevant findings of its inspection of the rule of the five brokers to Police's Economic Offence Wing, Department of Revenue, Department of Consumer Affairs, Directorate of Enforcement (ED) and the RBI for necessary action at their end.

Sources said the markets regulator had also granted the concerned entities an opportunity of inspection of the relevant documents, after which they were asked to submit their replies to the Show Cause Notice issued by

"Replies from all the five brokers have been received and they are currently being examined by Sebi," a senior official said.

National Spot Exchange Limited (NSEL) was incorporated as a company, with FTIL holding 99.98 per cent stake, with an objective of operating pan-India commodities spot exchange platform for which it obtained licenses under APMC Acts of various state governments to run spot exchange activities.

It was also granted exemption by the government from the preview of the erstwhile Forward Contracts Regulation Act (FCRA) to conduct trading of one-day duration forward contracts subject to various conditions.

The erstwhile Forward Markets Commission (FMC) was the statutory regulator under the FCRA and was functioning under administrative control of the Consumer Affairs Ministry. Later this administrative control was transferred to the Finance Ministry in September 2013.

While NSEL was outside the domain of regulation of the erstwhile FMC, the government through notifications in February 2012 and August 2013 had assigned specific role to FMC to discharge certain responsibilities vis-a-vis NSEL.

Before the merger of FMC with Sebi, the government also withdrew the exemption granted to NSEL from the FCRA provisions.

However, as on the date of FMC-Sebi merger, there was no notification in existence for observance by FMC with respect to NSEL and therefore Sebi did not have any role to discharge regarding NSEL, except for defending the interest of the erstwhile regulator and the central government in various litigations pertaining to the NSEL scam.

At the time of merger, Sebi had sought clarification from the Finance Ministry with regard to its jurisdiction vis-a-vis NSEL matters and was told that Sebi will support the three- member committee set up by the for effective recovery of investments from the defaulters of NSEL.

Sebi was also asked to respond to and company if the directions of the courts with regarding to NSEL cases and was mandated to respond to agencies investigating into the NSEL related matters.

The Finance Ministry also asked Sebi to ensure its representation in the meetings held for reviewing the progress in NSEL issue.

At the same time, the Ministry also clarified that since spot markets and ready delivery contracts were not being regulated by FMC, Sebi was also not expected to take upon itself any regulatory function with regard to such markets.

After Sebi took over regulation of commodity derivatives

market, it has been receiving large number of representations from various organisations including NSEL Investors Action Group, NSEL Investors Forum and also from NSEL, seeking intervention including in recovery of dues from defaulters.

Sebi has also been required to act against NSEL brokers for various alleged irregularities and to apply Sebi regulations on CIS and Ponzi schemes with regard to trading at NSEL.

However, Sebi has clarified its position that it has no role to play in recovery from the defaulters of NSEL and the same was being dealt with by other agencies such as EOW and ED and also a high-powered committee set up by the court.

Sebi has also informed the Committee that the recovery matters pertaining to NSEL was were beyond Sebi's regulatory domain.

On petitions seeking applicability of CIS and ponzi schemes to the NSEL trading model, Sebi observed that ponzi schemes are banned under Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act administered by the state government.

However, on receipt of petition, it was examined by Sebi and these investor groups have been appraised that the trading on NSEL platform did not have element of CIS, the official said.

On action against brokers, Sebi looked into their role on the basis of the preliminary report of EOW which contained prima facie evidence of wrongdoings by some brokers.

Sebi set up an Internal Committee to examine the role of brokers and subsequently appointed auditors to conduct audit of books of accounts of five commodity derivative brokers whose name appeared in the interim report of EOW.

On the basis of auditors' report, Sebi initiated enquiry proceedings against these five brokers -- Anand Rathi Commodities Ltd, Geofin Comtrade Ltd, India Infoline Commodities Ltd, Motilal Oswal Commodities Brokers Pvt Ltd and Philip Commodities India Pvt Ltd.

Sebi also appointed a bench of Designated Authorities and they issued show cause notices in this matter. Besides, enquiry proceedings were initiated against the entities which are under the same management control of four brokers -- Anand Rathi Commodities Ltd, India Infoline Commodities Ltd, Motilal Oswal Commodities Brokers Pvt Ltd and Philip Commodities India Pvt Ltd.

Sebi has been attending the review meeting to oversee the action taken on recommendation of the Special Team of Secretaries on NSEL matter and has been apprising the committee of the action taken by it and the status thereon.

The regulator will also inform its board, in its meeting this Saturday, about its role in the NSEL matter.

First Published: Thu, February 09 2017. 19:08 IST