Funds were allocated to Investor Helpline and www.watchoutinvestor.com from the Investor Education and Protection Fund, which was created from unclaimed dividends and interest amounts from companies. Instead, a bulk of the funds has been going to associations of industries, many of which are responsible for investors’ problems
In a shocking move, the Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF), administered by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has terminated financial support to two projects, www.investorhelpline.in and www.watchoutinvestor.com, without giving any reason. Both projects benefited investors directly. Besides, the Fund itself has been created from dividends and interest amounts not claimed by investors.
What is all the more shocking is that IEPF now seems to fund industry associations, such as the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). Representatives of these bodies have also been inducted into the IEPF group of administrators and to help decide who gets the unclaimed funds transferred to IEPF by companies.
Investor Helpline (www.investorhelpline.in) was launched in 2006 as an alternative grievance redressal mechanism, while www.watchoutinvestor.com is a database on the regulatory actions taken by a slew of regulatory agencies against companies and market intermediaries, and corporate decisions to change their name or objects. Both websites were previously given financial aid by the IEPF.
IEPF was created by an amendment to the Companies Act, which requires companies to transfer seven years of unclaimed dividends and interest to the Fund. Matured deposits and debentures of companies were also credited to this fund. It also receives grants and donations from central and various state governments. Over Rs400 crore has been credited to the IEPF since its inception. The funds are first transferred to the Consolidated Fund of India from where it is allocated to the Investor Fund.
Interestingly, the ministry had early this year asked for a proposal to enlarge the scope of the Investor Helpline project for allocation of funds beyond the term of the project which expired on 30 June 2011. But, in a letter dated 6 July 2011, MCA declined giving funds it received through IEPF.
Moreover, the previous minister of corporate affairs Salman Khurshid had acknowledged the role of Investor Helpline in response to a question in parliament. He said, "The investor grievances redressal mechanism at the website www.investorhelpline.in is also serving as a useful electronic platform for the investors."
Virendra Jain, president, Midas Touch Investors Association, which set up and operated Investor Helpline, was apparently told by the ministry that financial support was being terminated because the grievance redressal mechanism of the ministry was already doing a competent job.
Mr Jain contests the claim. He said MCA's track record of solving investors' grievances is poor. Giving his own experience, he said that around 2,000 investor complaints were forwarded by Investor Helpline to the respective regional directors and registrars of companies, but they received acknowledgment for less than 15% of the complaints.
While Investor Helpline and Watchoutinvestor have appealed to IEPF and the MCA to continue the financial support, the composition of the Fund board and the manner in which it spends its resources has erupted into a contentious issue. It is not clear why IEPF administrators are almost entirely from lobbying associations of industry or intermediaries such as chartered accountants and company secretaries, as well as representatives of stock exchanges. It is also very strange that MCA does not think it necessary to appoint even one representative of investors on the committee.
The Lokayukta court, which exempted former Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa from personal appearance on health grounds on Saturday, however, had directed him to appear before it on Monday
Bangalore: In a setback to former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, the Karnataka High Court on Monday dismissed his anticipatory bail application in connection with alleged irregularities in denotification of land, reports PTI.
Justice L Narayana Swamy dismissed the application filed by MR Yeddyurappa, who had sought bail apprehending arrest.
Mr Yeddyurappa, who was admitted to a private hospital after suffering from high fever, diabetes and hypertension, has to appear before the Special Lokayukta court on Monday at 3.30pm as per its 27th August order.
The Lokayukta court, which exempted Mr Yeddyurappa from personal appearance on health grounds on Saturday, however, had directed him to appear before it on Monday.
The Lokayukta court on 8th August had issued summons to the former CM and 14 others on a private complaint filed by advocate Sirajin Basha alleging irregularities in denotification of land acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and thereby causing loss to the state exchequer.
The high court had reserved its orders on anticipatory bail plea on 26th August.
"City gas distribution and piped gas distribution are potential areas which we have been identified for diversification. We also intend to tap shale gas, since the price of natural gas is rising," OIL director for exploration & development Baikunta Nath Talukdar said
Mumbai: State-run Navaratna oil explorer Oil India (OIL) is chalking out an expansion and diversification strategy that could also include an entry into the city gas distribution space, reports PTI.
"We plan to pursue a cautious strategy for our exploration initiative. We are looking for sure-bets, because exploration is a risky activity. Even when it comes to domestic exploration, we intend to bid for the next NELP (New Exploration Licensing Policy) auctions very selectively," OIL director for exploration & development Baikunta Nath Talukdar said here.
The company is considering entering the gas transportation market since it already has expertise in laying pipelines and transporting gas through pipelines. "We would like to market our gas directly to consumers. We may tie-up with a gas marketing company for this," Mr Talukdar said.
"City gas distribution and piped gas distribution are potential areas which we have been identified for diversification. That apart, we also intend to tap shale gas, since the price of natural gas is rising," Mr Talukdar said.
With respect to overseas exploration ventures, the company plans to focus its efforts on fields that have already been discovered. Earlier, the company had set aside 40% of its surplus funds for exploration initiatives. Now, that figure has risen to 52%.
OIL also intends to improve recovery from existing oilfields. It is already engaged in increasing the productivity of mature oilfields by inducting new technologies and company has begun horizontal drilling in some fields to enhance recovery.
Nevertheless, the diversification strategy will be conservative, with OIL sticking to areas in which it has some expertise, Mr Talukdar said.
Oil India has also picked up a 26% stake in the Numaligarh Refinery, as well as a 23% stake in the pipeline through which it supplies gas to the refinery.
"The pipeline business is attractive. Besides, we already have experience in this area. We also plan to pick up a 10% stake in the Dibrugarh gas cracker plant, to which we will be supplying gas," he said.
The Dibrugarh plant is promoted by state-run Gas Authority of India.
The company has had its share of set-backs. It could not discover oil in its exploration acreages in Libya and the process of relinquishing these blocks is on. It plans to write off the Rs56.8 crore expenditure incurred on the unsuccessful venture in Libya, a company official said.
Last week, the company had hinted at a possible asset-buy in Africa by picking up a stake in the exploration assets of Gabonian firm Etablissements Maurel et Prom.
"The block already has a discovery. We have our own people evaluating it, besides experts from other countries. A decision will be taken on our investments in Gabon after a feasibility study," Mr Talukdar had said.
The company also has a 3.5% stake in a consortium that bought oil wells in Venezuela.
"We will be producing around 400,000 barrels of crude, of which we will be entitled to 14,000-15,000 barrels. Production should begin by the third quarter of calendar 2012. Initial production will be sold or swapped," OIL director Nripendra Kumar Bharali had said.
The state-run upstream firm has invested $450 million in Venezuela's Orinoco super heavy oil belt. The asset is believed to hold around 3 billion barrels of reserves.
Oil India is a part of a consortium that includes Spanish explorer Repsol, ONGC Videsh, Indian Oil and Petroleos de Venezuela SA of Venezuela. However, recoveries under the project are expected to be low, because of the 'super heavy' nature of the crude.