New Delhi/Mumbai: Department of economic affairs secretary Atanu Chakraborty has emerged the front runner to take over as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) after current chairman Ajay Tyagi’s term ends on 1 March, according to two people aware of the development.
Other key contenders in a high profile race include Sebi whole-time member Madhabi Puri Buch and corporate affairs secretary Injeti Srinivas, a third person said on condition of anonymity. However, Tyagi’s file has also been sent to the government for an extension.
The final call on the appointment will be taken by the two-member appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
Atanu Chakraborty, who was made economic affairs secretary in the finance ministry replacing Subhash Chandra Garg in a major bureaucratic reshuffle in July 2019, is an old hand in the North Block. A 1985 batch IAS officer from Gujarat cadre, Chakraborty has also worked as secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) where he led the government’s drive to mop up ₹1.05 trillion through stake sales in state-run companies.
As secretary in the corporate affairs ministry, Injeti Srinivas has been leading the government’s bankruptcy reforms as well as the revamp of the regulatory architecture of companies and auditors in the wake of the failure of systemically important conglomerate Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) in 2018. He has also presided over the government’s efforts to weed out shell companies.
Sebi plays a crucial role in ensuring listed companies play by the rules.
Buch, if selected, would be the first woman to head the regulator.
She was also the first woman whole-time member at the market regulator in March 2017. This appointment also marked a departure from the regular practice of hiring Sebi board members, who typically were men coming from the public sector.
Buch started her career with ICICI Bank Ltd and went on to become managing director and chief executive of ICICI Securities Ltd in February 2009. In 2011, she joined Greater Pacific Capital Llp in Singapore. Prior to her stint at Sebi, she worked at New Development Bank in Shanghai.
Chakraborty had earlier served as director and joint secretary in the finance ministry. Before becoming DIPAM secretary, Chakraborty was director general of hydrocarbons (DGH) in the petroleum ministry, a position generally meant for technocrats, and managing director of Gujarat State Petroleum Corp. Ltd.
DGH is the oil ministry’s technical advisory arm for exploration and production that oversees multibillion dollar exploration programmes of private and public sector companies.
Phone calls and messages sent to Chakraborty who is in Guwahati on Thursday for a post-budget industry interaction with other ministry officials and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, remained unanswered at the time of publishing.
“Atanu is a very competent officer and will do justice with the position," said a senior government official who is also Chakraborty’s batchmate.
Sebi has in the last three years wrapped up some long- pending high-profile cases involving erstwhile Satyam Computer Services Ltd and National Stock Exchange Ltd. Besides addressing the backlog, it also picked up many new cases which need to be resolved urgently. These include allegations around related-party transactions at companies like Sun Pharmaceuticals and Infosys Ltd.