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Sebi to revamp consent settlement procedure

Sebi to revamp consent settlement procedure
PTI
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First Published: Sun, Aug 21 2011. 12 33 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Aug 21 2011. 12 33 PM IST
New Delhi: Market regulator Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) is mulling changes in the way it settles probes against listed companies and various market entities through a consent procedure -- an out-of-court-like settlement -- as it has found the prevailing system to be lacking in uniformity.
In the consent settlement, in vogue since 2007, the entity facing probe is subjected to certain fees and restrictions without admission or denial of alleged irregularities and Sebi thereafter drops its charges and the investigations.
An internal study by Sebi has, however, found that different yardsticks might have been applied in different consent cases and there is no consistency and any clear-cut uniformity in the way such cases are handled, sources said.
Subsequently, the regulator has decided to consider a revamp of its consent settlement procedure and is currently working on the required regulatory framework for the same, sources said.
The Sebi has also come across cases being settled with entities from same group on more than one occasion, although a consent order is broadly considered as a warning to the related party for not repeating similar offences.
The current regulations also give some discretionary powers to the Sebi officials settling the probe and the regulator would now look at bringing in a detailed and exhausting rules to be followed uniformly by all its officials while settling the probe under consent procedure.
The regulator’s internal study found that there was a perception about the consent orders being mostly subjective and not adequately transparent in nature and these procedures providing an escape route to alleged offenders.
Sebi would consider changing consent orders in such a way, so that they can be taken as a warning from the regulator and also a ‘name and shame’ directive for entities alleged to have indulged in market irregularities, sources said.
The regulator would look at bringing in more clarity on how such orders should be framed, as also at what time and in which cases consent orders should be passed, sources added.
Sebi introduced consent settlement system in April 2007 with a view to cut down on its costs, time and efforts in taking up the enforcement actions. So far, the regulator has passed more than 1,000 consent orders, which includes those passed against three companies of Anil Ambani group.
Earlier in June, Sebi settled a probe against Reliance Securities for a settlement charge of Rs25 lakh and other settlement terms.
Earlier in January, two other Anil Ambani group firms Reliance Infra and RNRL had reached a settlement with Sebi after paying consent charges of a record Rs50 crore and some other restrictions.
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First Published: Sun, Aug 21 2011. 12 33 PM IST