Home / Markets / Stock Markets /  I-T dept sleuths search former NSE chief executive’s  Mumbai residence

MUMBAI : The income tax department on Thursday conducted searches at the home of Chitra Ramkrishna, former chief executive of the National Stock Exchange of India, who is accused of passing on confidential information about the exchange to an unknown person, identified only as a ‘Himalayan yogi’.

“The I-T officials are at her residence in Mumbai," said a person familiar with the matter in the morning.

Ramkrishna is suspected of having made illegal gains when she passed on internal exchange information to an unknown third person, this person said.

This search follows an order by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on 11 February that found serious lapses in governance and ethical conduct by the former NSE chief executive.

Sebi alleges Ramkrishna was sharing confidential information relating to the exchange with the unknown third person and imposed a fine of 3 crore on her.

“The sharing of financial and business plans of NSE is a glaring, if not unimaginable act that could shake the very foundations of the stock exchange," the market regulator said.

Her other serious lapse was in appointing the chief operating officer (COO) of NSE—allegedly following emails by the unknown person—without getting the appointment cleared by the nomination and remuneration committee, which was a breach of regulatory norms.

According to the Sebi order, this was a “glaring conspiracy of a money-making scheme" involving Ramkrishna and COO Anand Subramanian, along with the unknown person. According to NSE, the ‘Himalayan yogi’ was none other than Subramanian, but Sebi said it didn’t see enough evidence to support the allegation.

Vikram Limaye, NSE’s present chief executive, met the finance minister on Wednesday and gave the organization’s version of events.

Ramkrishna resigned in December 2016.

This is the second income tax probe against Ramkrishna. The first was in November 2017 in connection with the so-called co-location scam.

The income tax department in Delhi and its Mumbai arm had conducted searches of the premise of stockbrokers and former and current officials of NSE to verify the extent of illegal gains made by some brokers who gained preferential access to NSE’s high-speed algorithmic trading (algo-trading) platform.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was already probing the case of preferential access to NSE algo-trading platform and had registered a first information report (FIR) in the case on 30 May 2018 against OPG Securities promoter Sanjay Gupta; his brother-in-law Aman Kakrady; Ajay Shah, who facilitated Gupta’s operations by developing and providing a software called Chanakya; and some other unnamed officials of NSE and Sebi. In May 2019, the agency submitted a status report to the Delhi high court that its probe is no longer limited to the original complaint.

In a written reply to Parliament in July 2021, the government said the CBI investigation is still going on.

“There is already a case being probed by CBI. These new facts highlighted in the Sebi order can be used by the agency to widen its probe. The leakage of sensitive information by Ramkrishna is one of the most serious offences. CBI is equipped in verifying if any financial damaged caused to the institution and the exact identity of the recipient of the data," said a person familiar with the matter.

Jayshree P Upadhyay
Jayshree heads a team of reporters focussing on legal, regulatory, investigative stories. She has worked for over a decade, reporting on financial scams, legal stories and the intersection of corporate and regulatory issues. She is based in Mumbai and has previously worked with Business Standard, Mint, The Morning Context and Bloomberg TV India.
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