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Business News/ Markets / Enforcement not the only solution to violations, says Sebi’s Kamlesh Varshney
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Enforcement not the only solution to violations, says Sebi’s Kamlesh Varshney

After a string of violations by capital-markets participants, the senior Sebi official said while enforcement is essential, violations can’t be eliminated without voluntary compliance by market participants.

In an interim order on 9 February, Sebi asked several expert guests who have appeared on Zee Business News to pay ₹7.41 crore in fines for allegedly making “unlawful gains” by taking the opposite positions in the market from the ones they promoted on airPremium
In an interim order on 9 February, Sebi asked several expert guests who have appeared on Zee Business News to pay 7.41 crore in fines for allegedly making “unlawful gains” by taking the opposite positions in the market from the ones they promoted on air

Mumbai: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has urged market participants to voluntarily comply with laws, saying that while enforcement is essential, it can’t be the only way to address wrongdoings in the capital markets, a senior Sebi official said.

“... ultimately, the law is implemented through voluntary compliance. It is done largely to tell participants that the regulator is watching them. Enforcement cannot be against each violation; these violations must be corrected through voluntary compliance," Kamlesh Varshney, a whole-time member of Sebi said while addressing Assocham’s 15th Capital Market Summit.

His comments come after a string of violations by capital-markets participants, such as the recent matter involving Zee Business News. In an interim order on 8 February, Sebi asked several expert guests who have appeared on the channel to pay 7.41 crore in fines for allegedly making “unlawful gains" by taking the opposite positions in the market from the ones they promoted on air.

Varshney said, “If we see that on a television channel, guest experts are giving advice to manipulate the market we will of course enter the picture, but it is the responsibility of the TV channel to see whether their guest experts are giving advice in a transparent manner or there is some manipulation going on. They may not have enforcement power like us, they may not have surveillance mechanisms and tools like we have, but they can do a smell test." A smell test refers to a simple and informal evaluation of a situation or proposal.

Varshney also cited front-running activities that the regulator has witnessed at some asset management companies. He said, “We have seen a lot of front-running in mutual fund companies. Managers of these companies can definitely have control mechanisms in place to ensure that their employees are not doing any frontrunning or involved in any other manipulation schemes. Now, these voluntary compliances are going to play a very important role in ensuring that investor trust is not affected."

Varshney was referring to a series of allegations against former employees of Axis Mutual Fund, including front-running, receiving bribes from brokers, and placing trade orders at inflated prices.

Addressing the same event, Ananth Narayan, another whole-time Sebi member, said the regulator has three fundamental mandates under the Sebi Act. “We are charged with investor protection, market development, and market regulation. Essentially, if you put all three together, our collective goal is to ensure sustainable capital formation."

Narayan added that market regulators are increasingly focused on risks emanating from the use of technology. “We need to be extremely well informed at an individual level about technology and the risks it poses. If there is anything that gives any regulators sleepless nights, it is the threat of cyberattacks."

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Published: 18 Feb 2024, 08:31 PM IST
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