The Committee of Secretaries (CoS) had directed that heads of FMC and SEBI should be represented on each other’s board so that there could be policy convergence of financial sector regulations relating to capital markets
New Delhi: With a view to bridging regulatory gaps, the high-level panel tasked to re-write financial sector laws will take a call on nominating Forward Markets Commission (FMC) chairman on the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) board, reports PTI quoting a senior finance ministry official.
The Committee of Secretaries (CoS) had directed that heads of FMC and SEBI should be represented on each other’s board so that there could be policy convergence of financial sector regulations relating to capital markets.
As there is no provision for having a special invitee on the board of SEBI, the government will have to amend the SEBI Act, the official said, adding an opinion to this effect was also expressed by the ministry of law.
“In order to implement the CoS decision, the matter has been referred to Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC),” he added.
FSLRC, chaired by justice (retired) BN Srikrishna, was constituted in March this year to rewrite and streamline financial sector laws, rules and regulations in line with the economic liberalisation programme of the government.
There are over 60 Acts and multiple rules and regulations in the financial sector and many of them date back decades when the financial landscape was very different from what it is today.
Moreover, the large number of amendments in financial sector Acts over the years have increased the ambiguity and complexity of the system.
The 10-member commission was given 24 months to submit its report to the finance ministry.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority seems to have woken up to the ill effects of highest NAV product mis-selling. J Hari Narayan has hinted that a few traditional products also could be axed. The regulator is in favour of same insurer for accumulation and annuity phase of pension products
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) is closely looking at all the highest NAV products available in the market. "We are looking at all the message around these products, how these products are sold, what the customer understanding is of the product. We feel there is mis-selling in highest NAV products," IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan has said.
It looks like IRDA has made up its mind about showing the door to highest NAV products. The thought has come up after highest NAV products have been in the market for more than a couple of years.
Moneylife has maintained all along that 'highest' NAV unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) give suboptimal results and cause confusion for customers. The most important point to understand is that insurance companies are guaranteeing NAVs and not returns!
Late, but IRDA has finally woken up to the way highest NAV products were sold in the market and the perception it was creating in the minds of customers about the kind of returns which could be expected with these products. Most of the investment would be in debt instruments and the returns no better than any other similar investment.
Last year it was Universal Life Policy (ULP) that IRDA suddenly discovered was toxic and decided to scrap it after it was in the market for over a year. It found its way back re-christened as Variable Insurance Policy (VIP). This year IRDA has found a new target, the highest NAV product.
Insurance companies Moneylife has interacted with recently are not happy with the IRDA's hint at scrapping highest NAV products. According to one insurance company head, "It is possible customers feel that they are going to get highest equity market return over the years. More disclosures would be the answer. Removing highest NAV will lower the number of product offerings. In that case, customers should only buy FDs, but that also is subject to mis-selling."
An interaction with agents in the past did reveal the wrong impression given about the amount of equity exposure in the product and the duration of equity over the policy term. Either the insurers were misleading their agents or the agents misleading potential customers.
Some time ago, Birla Sun Life launched 'Foresight' with an offer to put your investments at the lowest NAV in the year and offer highest NAV for returns. The concept was catchy for the layman with the advertisement pitch of not worrying about the entry point in the market. The problem was the way three different calculations were compared to decide how much the customer gets at the end of the policy term. This was beyond the layman's understanding.
IRDA is also looking at traditional products with a low insurance component. According to the IRDA chairman, "The Direct Tax Code (DTC) will enforce a certain premium-to-sum-assured ratio. We want to ensure traditional insurance products comply with the new requirements."
Clearly, traditional insurance products in general are low in insurance component and some which have decreasing sum assured, offering sum assured as specific rate of return on the premium paid and insignificant sum assured, will be the first products that are on the IRDA list to be dropped.
The IRDA chairman is also against the LIC enjoying over 95% market share in annuity products. The IRDA exposure draft of pension products specifies that the customer be restricted to the same insurance company for both accumulation phase and annuity phase of the product.
Reliance Telecom and Swan Telecom Private Ltd, an alleged beneficiary of the scam, have been taking the defence that they were not 'associate' firms as RTL's stake in STPL was below 10%, as mandated under the guidelines for the Unified Access Service licenses
New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was today directed by a Delhi court to file law ministry report which said that a firm should have more than 10% stake in another for being termed an 'associate', a plea taken by the second generation (2G) scam accused Reliance Telecom and Swan Telecom, reports PTI.
"It is ordered that the CBI would place a copy of the report received by it from ministry of law and Justice through Department of Telecommunication (DoT) on record on 21st September, the next date of hearing," special CBI judge OP Saini said.
Reliance Telecom (RTL) and Swan Telecom Private Ltd (STPL), an alleged beneficiary of the scam, have been taking the defence that they were not 'associate' firms as RTL's stake in STPL was below 10%, as mandated under the guidelines for the Unified Access Service (UAS) licenses.
Essar Telecom, which allegedly created Loop Telecom as its front company to get licenses, has taken the same plea.
"No single company/legal person either directly, or through its associates, shall have substantial equity holding in more than one licensee company in the same service area for the Access Services namely: Basic, Cellular and the UAS.
'Substantial equity' herein will mean 'equity of 10% or more'. A promoter company/legal person cannot have stakes in more than one licensee company for the same service area," the UASL guidelines said.
CBI, on the other hand, has been alleging that STPL was an associate firm of RTL created to circumvent the then guidelines of DoT which debarred existing CDMA players from venturing into GSM segment.
RTL later passed on the control of STPL to promoter and co-accused Shahid Usman Balwa after the DoT allowed it to avail the facility of dual technology, the agency said.
Law secretary DR Meena, in his report to the DoT, had said the term 'associate' could be determined only by applying the 'share-holding' test between telecom firms.
"It is a common mistake to confuse a mere 'association' with a definition of an 'associate company'. Companies may have common interests, common business strategies, financial dealings, business pacts and understandings. It is common knowledge that in the telecom sector, several companies enter into business arrangements for technical support and strategies like sharing of towers.
"To that extent, they certainly have an 'association', but by no means they can be termed as being 'associates' of one another, on that ground. The true test, therefore, is to apply the shareholding test," the report said.
However, the names of accused telecom firms did not figure in the report of the law ministry.
The judge said though the CBI was justified in opposing the plea of the accused, the court was asking for the report as the investigators have left the issue to its discretion.
Initially, the CBI, during the arguments, took the plea that it cannot be forced to bring on record the 'unsolicited' opinion of the law ministry as it had no relation with its probe and filing of the charge sheet in the case.
Later, CBI took a u-turn saying "we leave it to the discretion of the court. It is not a relied upon document.
However, we have no objection, if court wants it."
"The report is largely legalistic in nature clarifying a law point only. The prosecution is not likely to suffer any prejudice by its production. Accordingly, in the interest of fairness of trial and transparency, I deem it proper that a copy of the said report be placed on record by the CBI," the court said.
The court said in the interest of justice, the report be placed on its record.
"The case is still at the initial stage of arguments on framing of charges. The instant case is a case of grave magnitude with unimaginable allegations of corruption. It is trite to remark that justice should not only be done but should also be seen to have been done," it said.
It would now hear arguments on the law ministry report on 21st September on behalf of the CBI and various accused and after that the order on framing charges could be pronounced against 17 persons including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi.