CCI probing 11 complaints against realty firms

New Delhi: Close on heels of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) busting a major housing finance racket involving officials from bank and realty firms, competition watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) today said it is also examining 11 complaints against a few real estate companies pertaining to anti-competitive practices, reports PTI.

"I can only say that of the 137 cases that we are handling, 11 pertain to the real estate sector," Competition Commission of India chairman Dhanendra Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of an Assocham event here, without disclosing the names of the companies.

According to sources, of the 11 such cases, at least five-six complaints were against one realty major for its various housing projects.

CCI looks into violation of anti-competitive practices and abuse of dominance by corporates.

Mr Kumar said complaints have been received under Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act, 2002 that deal with anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position, respectively.

He said this while responding to a query if the CCI plans to look into the companies involved in the housing finance scam, which led to the arrest of LIC Housing Finance chairman Ramachandran Nair and seven senior bank officials.

Last week, the CBI had booked the officials for allegedly colluding with loan arranger firm Money Matters and overlooking regulatory guidelines for granting approvals, for their individual monetary gains.

The agency has also sought explanation from private companies which benefited from an alleged cross-country scam.

D B Realty, Adani and a few other companies have already sent their representatives with relevant documents today, according to a report.

The beneficiary companies include Lavasa, Pashmina, Mantri Realty, Sigrun Ltd, Entertainment World, Indore City Treasures, Ashapura Minechem, BGR Energy, OPG Group, Adani, JP Hydro, JSW Power, Religare, Pantaloon and MTECH, among others.

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Now, SEBI jumps on the UID bandwagon

The stock market regulator is working on a new concept based on the UID, which is being issued to 60 crore ‘poor’ Indians. This new proposal is somewhat surprising, as not so long ago the SEBI chief was lecturing mutual funds not to target the poor

Nandan Nilekani, the head of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has continuously maintained that obtaining the biometrics-based unique identification (UID) would be voluntary for Indians. This promise of 'voluntary enrolment' silenced most privacy advocates who argued that UID is a serious breach of privacy and that the biometric databases are unsafe.

Now it seems that the UIDAI may be trying some backdoor methods to make the identification registration mandatory. At the weekend, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chief CB Bhave said in a speech that the market regulator is working on a new concept of operations based on the unique identification number (UIDN). UIDN, or Aadhaar, is the ambitious project of the UIDAI which, it is estimated, will cost the public exchequer about Rs45,000 crore over five years.

But this is not the first time that SEBI has tried to enforce some identification for investors. The market regulator discontinued it's much-touted 'market participant identification number' (MAPIN) scheme in June-July 2005 after a six-member committee, appointed to re-examine the use, structure and feasibility of the MAPIN database-bowing to popular opinion-recommended an end to biometric identification for investors. Mr Bhave was then heading the National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) and was one of the members who left the committee before it could draft and submit a report. Mr Bhave was a big supporter of MAPIN and NSDL would have been a big beneficiary.

MAPIN registered fingerprints along with a photograph. Many retail investors believed that the use of fingerprints and photographs (used worldwide for identification of criminals) would be a punishment for honest investors, as no trickster would be so stupid as to undertake fraudulent transactions on his own ID. The other factor was that actual trading, at the time, did not involve biometrics and there was no way of verifying the fingerprints and photograph of an investor.
Besides, there were other avenues like depository accounts, brokers, permanent account number (PAN) and bank account numbers, available to the regulators to track an investor and his investments.

In the first round of MAPIN, the stock market regulator issued about 4,00,000 UIDs, mostly to senior officials of various companies, institutions and brokerages, at a charge of Rs300 per ID.

Today, it's the same story with Aadhaar, or UIDN, which is to be issued to about 60 crore residents in India. Everyone, whether it is Nandan Nilekani or even the prime minister, believe that this will help improve the public distribution system (PDS) and that the UID will help to ensure that the poor would be able to receive food grain, which otherwise gets diverted in transit from government warehouses to PDS shops. (Read:  http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/8567.html). This would mean that the poor would be given the Aadhaar number in order to get regular food and other social security benefits. Now if, as Mr Nilekani says, Aadhaar is not mandatory, about half of the country's population would be left out of the UID process. (Read: UID = more 'consumers', admits Nilekani http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/11574.html)

But SEBI wants to work out a solution based on the UID, so that the poor can also turn retail participant in the markets. Indeed, a noble idea. Unfortunately, the SEBI chief doesn't really believe so.

In June, addressing a mutual fund summit, Mr Bhave said, "Financial inclusion is a noble goal and everyone should be working towards achieving it, but one must keep in mind the target customer. A person whose lifetime savings is a mere Rs50,000 can't afford to invest in mutual funds. If the market crashes tomorrow, he cannot take that kind of risk. You will only give him what the net asset value (NAV) is at that particular time."

What applies to mutual funds must also be true for the stock market. Still, the SEBI chief is proposing to use the UID database, expecting the 'poor' to turn investors.

According to an activist, Aadhaar is a blind endorsement of Professor Coimbatore Krishnarao (CK) Prahalad's 'Theory of Marketing to the Bottom of the Pyramid', which in India's case is 60 crore people living below the poverty line; would-be consumers who corporations wish to target in order to improve their bottom line. "It's an idea in conflict, because the target population for this mega-marketing adventure are consumers who cannot afford three square meals a day, let alone avail of goods and services aimed at them by corporations," the activist said.

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COMMENTS

Keshav B Bhat

6 years ago

dear All,
in Indian mythology there is one comunity called "RAKSHASA's"
I think now SEBI is full of them!
May be someday GOD will come to risk us from these people
Keshav B Bhat

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