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MUMBAI : The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday questioned former National Stock Exchange (NSE) chief executive Chitra Ramkrishna and issued look-out circulars against her and two top former exchange executives, expanding its ongoing probe into a case of preferential access to NSE’s algo-trading platform.

“CBI is questioning Ramkrishna today in Mumbai and has issued a look-out circular against Ramkrishna, Anand Subramanian and Ravi Narain (former managing director of NSE). It is the expansion of the 2018 FIR in light of the recent facts that have emerged pursuant to the Sebi order," the official said, requesting anonymity.

People named in look-out circulars are not allowed to leave the country.

A person familiar with the matter, who declined to be named, said the investigation is in advanced stages and some more people will be called in for questioning next week in Delhi and Mumbai.

The so-called algo scam involved certain brokers getting unfair advantage over others while accessing NSE’s algo-trading platform, thereby making undue gains or avoiding losses.

The investigation happened after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi high court in August 2017 by journalist Shantanu Guha Ray, who demanded the agency widen the scope of its investigation into allegations of fraud and illegality into algo-trading.

In May 2019, CBI submitted a status report to the Delhi high court that its probe was no longer limited to the original complaint.

In a written response to the Parliament in July, the government said the CBI investigation was still on.

Recently, the agency also submitted a status report on the probe to the high court.

“These new facts highlighted in the Sebi order are being 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 to verify if any financial damage has been caused to the institution and the exact identity of the recipient of the data," the person cited above said.

The Sebi order had accused Ramkrishna of sharing confidential information about the NSE to an unknown person, identified only as a ‘Himalayan yogi’.

The market regulator also said in its order that she was involved in a so-called money making scheme with Subramanian, NSE’s former chief operating officer, and an unknown third person, when she hired Subramanian.

This was the second action by the CBI in two days against Ramkrishna, whose residence was searched by income tax officials on Thursday.

“During the searches, the officials sought to understand as to why the laptop from which mails were sent to an unknown third person were destroyed as e-waste," said a person familiar with the tax searches at Ramkrishna’s residence.

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