Poor Scrutiny of Applications
I am a regular reader of Moneylife. It is an eye-opener to investors. I would like to narrate my bitter experience with Shriram Transport Finance Company’s NCD (non-convertible debentures) issue. I applied for NCD issue (5) of the company in July 2013. I applied for 20 NCDs under Series 1 (i.e., interest payment every year, for 36 months). I got the allotment under Series IV (i.e., interest payment at the end of maturity period of 36 months - cumulative scheme). I was surprised to note the allotment. I took up the matter with Integrated Enterprises (India) Ltd, registrars to the issue. They replied to me as follows:  “As per SEBI regulations the BID data will be considered for formalisation of allotment. No scrutiny of physical application is made. It is the responsibility of syndicate member to capture all relevant fields.”
 
Despite my repeated mails to the registrars to the issue and the issuing company, they have not agreed to change the series. I have sent a complaint to SEBI’s regional office at Chennai on 22 August 2013. I have yet to get their response. 
 
I do not understand the purpose of the application submitted and the option selected under the scheme. If the allotment is as per the wishes of the syndicate member, the entire purpose gets defeated. If the syndicate member commits a mistake in selecting the series, why should the applicant suffer?
 
Finally, the registrars to the issue have suggested the disposal of NCDs in the market, if the selection of series is not in my favour. Is this the way to treat an investor? I require allotment as per my option and not as per their choice. I request you to kindly look into the issue and render assistance in resolving the issue.
RM Ramanathan, by email
 
Eradicating Fake Currency 
I am from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. I appreciate Moneylife’s efforts in bringing to light the facts in many cases and informing people about their infringed rights in getting their claims.
 
Your recent Cover Story on “Wake Up to Your Bank Charges” (Moneylife, 5 September 2013), based on the survey conducted by Moneylife, focused on problems faced by the public, and, in fact, shook them out of their complacency. But, unfortunately, the article left out an important point which I would like to focus on. Please take necessary action and pressurise the regulator to take swift and stringent action. Banks are hiring or using private security agencies for loading currency notes in ATMs which is causing agony to consumers in many ways:
  1. There is every chance of some private agencies putting in fake notes in the ATMs and what is most shocking is that banks are not claiming responsibility for these issues. 
  2.  Soiled, damaged and tampered currency notes are being kept in ATMs. The customer has to struggle to get such notes exchanged.
  3.  It is shocking that there is not even a single complaint book kept at ATM centres. In some ATMs centres, it is hard to find even security guards.
I request Moneylife to highlight this issue before the regulatory authorities for the benefit of the customers which will help in eradicating fake currency.
Suresh Kumar, by email
 
Deduction of Education cess
It is observed from the tax deduction at source (TDS) certificates received from some public/ private sector bank branches for interest on fixed deposits that only income-tax @10% has been deducted; education cess @ 3% on income-tax has not been deducted by them for FY12-13. On inquiring about why they are not deducting education cess, the concerned bank branches plead that tax has been deducted as per the system/ instructions from the head office.
 
Before filing the income-tax return for the assessment year 2013-14, the assessee has to deposit the education cess amount. Else, there will be tax dues and the return cannot be uploaded. If there is a delay in payment of education cess, it may be subject to interest / penalty. To obviate this, the system of banks should also provide for deduction of education cess along with deduction of income-tax on interest on fixed deposits.
 
I request you to take up the matter with the concerned authorities for corrective action for the benefit of all.
CN Modi, by email
 
Ban MLMs! 
I came across an article from Moneylife (“Multi-Level Marketing: Con Quest” dated 26 November 2012 by Sucheta Dalal) on the Internet and I found the arguments  against MLMs (multi-level marketing schemes) valid, especially Qnet.
 
I recently got in touch with a few Qnet ‘guys’ who said that they are doing business with the potential to earn crores of rupees. I requested them to explain their business model to me, so that I can think about it. But they just asked me to get mentally prepared first and convince them about why I would like to join Qnet and earn. I found it a stupid approach.
 
Anyhow, I had a meeting with them and came to know that it is just an MLM, wherein one has to put in some money and get someone else to join them and then recover the money. The more people you can enrol, the more you earn. For that, they just give super-motivational speeches, talking especially about success stories. They create insecurities about your future and give you an assurance about your safe future with them. This is done to lure you to invest in their business. It is very natural for someone to fall into their trap. 
 
I already hated the MLM concept and so I saved myself from falling prey. I feel that such concepts and practices should be completely banned in India. Anything you can do to stop these practices would be great. These Qnet ‘guys’ normally have a meeting almost every evening in a coffee shop in Bandra (Mumbai).
A Reader, by email
 
Spreading Financial Literacy
I sincerely convey my thanks to A Soorianaryanan (letter to the editor, Moneylife, 19 September 2013) who has enlightened me and the readers on the nitty-gritty of e-filling of income-tax returns and its implications, particularly on salaried taxpayers. This was in response to my letter (Moneylife, 25 July 2013). I fully endorse his comment that Moneylife is doing a wonderful job of spreading financial literacy through the magazine. The magazine is also performing yeoman service in different areas to educate and enlighten readers by regularly conducting workshops on various themes without any charge. I wish and hope that the Moneylife team, under the able guidance of its founders, will continue to assist the retail investor community in taking the right decisions to build up their asset portfolio.
Ramesh Kapadia, by email
 
Attitude of SEBI Employees
This is with regard to “SEBI’s warped ideas about PMS data disclosure”. This proves the point that SEBI exists solely to further the interest of brokers and vendors of financial products who cheat investors across different platforms. It is the brokers and the bankers who control SEBI. SEBI cares a damn about investors. Even the disclosure that is happening, thanks to Moneylife, is so short of what the market needs. SEBI is truly the biggest enemy of investors.
R Balakrishnan
 
Good Analysis
This is with regard to “SIP in Bond Funds” by Jason Monteiro. If, over five years, the average return is 6%, then one is better off investing in fixed deposits for five years. Even at the highest tax bracket, for 9% return, one would have a guarantee of 6% return. Good analysis.
Santosh Kanekar
 
Great Work
This is with regard to “Infosys explains why MCA21 has issues”. Great work by Moneylife to get this information. Congratulations!
Anil Agashe
 
Refreshing Pragmatism
This is with regard to “India does not have structural problems: Raghuram Rajan”. Refreshing pragmatism indeed! Expectations are building up around Dr Rajan. We needed someone who will speak out without fear of loss of votes or his/ her own job. I think that person has arrived.
MG Warrier
 
Questionable funds
This is with regard to “NSEL fiasco: When protestors arrive in BMWs, Mercs!”. The fact is that there are many UHNIs (ultra high net worth individuals) among the protestors arriving in limos. This should lead the tax and enforcement authorities to investigate into the sources of the monies put in by some of the top investors and actors. It is sure to take them to the role of questionable funds, notwithstanding KYC.
Nagesh Kini
 
Bulk Deposits Gathering
This is with regard to “Domestic mutual funds show slight improvement in equity flows”. When 78.94% of the assets are under fixed-income category mostly mobilised from banks, corporates and institutions, how can it be called mutual funds industry? ‘Bulk deposits gathering industry’ would be an appropriate description.
Nilesh Kamerkar
 
Laws are never Implemented
This is with regard to “Corporate deposits: A better deal?” by Jayant Thakur. In India, what is the point in the government making laws, or having public discussions about laws? These laws are never implemented.
Meenal Rege

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Indiabulls conducts fast-track AGMs of six companies in just two hours!

Indiabulls held annual general meeting-AGM of its six companies back to back by allotting just 15 minutes for each company at same venue on 30 September 2013. These AGMs started at 10am and ended at around 11.30am. This means each company finished its complete proceedings of AGM in 15 minutes flat!

Indiabulls group, the real estate to securities and power major, has created a sort of record by completing annual general meeting (AGM) of its six group companies within two hours at the same venue. This means, Store One Retail India Ltd, Indiabulls Wholesale Services Ltd, Indiabulls Securities Ltd, Indiabulls Power Ltd, Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd, Indiabulls Infra and Power Ltd had just 15 minutes each, back to back, to complete the proceedings as per their agenda for the AGM. All decisions and resolutions were passed in rush. This fast-track AGM ‘fair’ raises issues of corporate governance! If this has been allowed by exchanges and market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) then all the companies will follow this trend!
 

These companies passed ordinary resolutions with shareholders’ votes by hand. Many other companies do hold their AGMs on the same day, but 15 minutes for an AGM is a very short period for passing ordinary resolutions. It is unfair on the part of shareholders, who have voting rights and say in the company’s affairs. Shareholders queries, open discussions on important decisions, promoter’s view about company can not be discussed properly in such a small period.
 

SEBI has directed both, BSE and National Stock Exchange (NSE) to seek clarifications from Indiabulls group companies about the fast track AGMs. SEBI also asked clarification as to how the company proposes to ensure that the proceedings of the AGM including addressing of queries raised by shareholders would be completed within the assigned 15 minutes.
 

However, according to Indiabulls a majority (almost 80%) of the shareholders in its group companies, mainly Indiabulls Real Estate, Indiabulls Securities, Indiabulls Wholesale Services and Indiabulls Infrastructure and Power, are common. “The sole reason for scheduling of AGMs of all these companies on same day (30th September), at the same venue and with short intervals is to provide comfort to the shareholders, save them cost and time, and ensure their participation in all the meetings. In fact, last year a majority of the shareholders present in the AGMs of these companies demanded (some of these shareholders had subsequently sent written requests as well) that the meetings should be scheduled without any break so that they can participate in all the meetings,” Indiabulls group companies stated in a clarification to the Exchanges.
 

Here is the clarification issued by Indiabulls group companies…

  1. Since the creation of most of the listed companies in the Indiabulls Group is an outcome of several demergers Indiabulls Real Estate Ltd (IBREL) and Indiabulls Securities Limited got demerged from Indiabulls Financial Services Limited. Subsequently Indiabulls wholesale Services Limited (IWSL) and Indiabulls Infrastructure & Power Limited got demerged from IBREL a majority (almost 80%) of the shareholders are common between various Indiabulls group companies. Further some of these companies namely Store One Retail India Limited (SORIL) and IWSL, are small in size having market cap of around 75 Cr, the sole reason for scheduling of AGMs of all these companies on same day (September 30), at the same venue and with short intervals is to provide comfort to the shareholders, save them cost and time, and ensure their participation in all the meetings. In fact, last year a majority of the shareholders present in the AGMs of these companies demanded (some of these shareholders had subsequently sent written requests as well) that the meetings should be scheduled without any break so that they can participate in all the meetings.
  1. The nature of the business to be transacted in these meetings, being fairly ordinary in nature (agenda items are only routine in nature such as adoption of accounts, reappointment of auditors and directors), the shareholders are comfortable in the said companies scheduling their AGMs back-to-back with 15 minutes intervals which we feel should be sufficient to cover the business to be transacted at the AGMs, as aforesaid. It has been seen in the past, AGMs of these companies usually get over in about 15 minutes, and if there is a large interval between two AGMs, shareholders feel restless and do not wait for the next meeting.
  1. The venue of the AGM is Centaur Hotel, a 5 star hotel located near the international airport, is well connected with the other parts of the city and therefore very convenient for the shareholders to reach. Since 2006, Indiabulls group is constantly conducting its shareholders meeting at the same place, therefore this place has become well known amongst the shareholders and the shareholders find it very convenient & comfortable in attending the meeting at this venue.
  1. The AGM venue is thrown open to the shareholders at least two hours before the start of the first AGM, and the company officials and management (including Executive director, Chairman of the Audit Committee, Statutory Auditors, CFO, Company Secretary, officials of Secretarial, Legal, A/C & Finance etc of the respective Companies) are present at the venue since early morning till all the queries of the shareholders are satisfactorily addressed. Therefore, the company welcomes queries from all shareholders not only during the meeting, but also before the commencement of AGM and after it gets over. The officials and senior management are available throughout for response to all queries. This is a tested process adopted by the Company which has been well received by the shareholders in the past as well. This is the reason why the shareholders have felt very comfortable and satisfied about the conduct of meetings by Indiabulls Group and there have been no complaints from them of whatsoever in nature on this count. We may mention that this in itself is a testimony to how much Indiabulls group values the convenience, comfort and meaningful participation of the shareholders at its general meetings.
  1. Since the audited accounts and annual report of all the companies are sent to the shareholders well in advance, it has been observed that the shareholders keep their queries ready, well in advance. The shareholders are prompt in asking questions and they get satisfactory response quickly, as all the concerned officials are available there. It would also be pertinent to mention that during the interval between the date of receipt of annual reports and the actual date of the meetings, the shareholders have a sufficient opportunity and time to go through the annual report and raise queries, if any, on the concerned companies. In fact the companies do receive queries from various investors as also the research analysts who get hold of such reports and such queries are duly addressed.
  1. Keeping in mind a hypothetical situation where an AGM does not get over at the stipulated time (which has not been happened till date), the chairman of the meeting can adjourn the AGM and resume with the unfinished agenda after the conclusion of the last scheduled meeting. It may also be pertinent to mention that voting at such meetings is normally held through a show of hands and takes a very short time. In case the shareholders present demand for a poll on any agenda, the poll demanded could be taken up post conclusion of last scheduled meeting.
  1. Needless to say that the aforesaid establishes beyond doubt that how the Indiabulls Group Companies conduct their general meetings including the AGMs, has been appreciated by their shareholders all through, a testimony of which is the fact that no complaints have been received from any shareholders either about the general meetings/ AGMs or any matter related to the conduct thereof.

While there are no specific rules and regulations about time limit of an AGM, such a short time (15 minutes) can be considered as a poor practice of corporate governance. SEBI should think over this issue where the company totally ignores shareholders in the AGM of company, as such meetings provide an opportunity for shareholders to engage with the management and ask questions about a company.

 

Following the AGMs, these six companies from Indiabulls group have submitted the outcomes of their annual meetings to the BSE and NSE. Following are the ordinary resolutions which were passed in these back to back AGMs…

  1. Indiabulls Infrastructure and Power, in its third AGM, passed ordinary resolutions, to re-appoint Saurabh Kumar Mittal and Ram Kumar Sheokand as directors, to appoint Chartered Accountants Sharma Goel & Co as Statutory Auditors of the Company.
  1. Indiabulls Power, in its sixth AGM, passed ordinary resolutions, to consider and adopt audited balance sheet as on 31 March 2013, year ended statement of Profits and Loss, Auditors and Board of Directors Report, to re-appoint Rajeev Ratan and Shamsher Singh Ahlawat as directors, to appoint auditors and to fix their remuneration.
  1. Indiabulls Real Estate, in its seventh AGM, passed ordinary resolutions, to consider and adopt audited balance sheet as on 31 March 2013, year ended statement of Profits and Loss, Auditors and Board of Directors Report, to confirm payment of interim dividend on equity shares for 2012-13, to re-appoint Aishwarya Katoch and Labh Singh Sitara as directors, to appoint auditors and to fix their remuneration.
  1. Indiabulls Securities, in its eighteenth AGM, passed ordinary resolutions to consider and adopt audited balance sheet as on 31 March 2013, year ended statement of Profits and Loss, Auditors and Board of Directors Report, to confirm payment of interim dividend on equity shares for 2012-13 to re-appoint Prem Prakash Mirdha and Labh Singh Sitara as directors, to appoint Chartered Accountants, Deloitte Haskins & Sells as Statutory Auditors of the Company.
  1. Indiabulls Wholesale Services, in its sixth AGM, passed ordinary resolutions to consider and adopt audited balance sheet as on 31 March 2013, year ended statement of Profits and Loss, Auditors and Board of Directors Report, to confirm of payment of interim dividend declared on equity shares for the financial year 2012-2013, to re-appoint Mehul Johnson as director, to appoint Chartered Accountants, Sharma Goel & Co as Statutory Auditors of the Company.
  1. Store One Retail India, in its eighth AGM, passed ordinary resolutions to consider and adopt audited balance sheet as on 31 March 2013, year ended statement of Profits and Loss, Auditors and Board of Directors Report, to re-appoint Mehul Johnson and Prem Prakash Mirdha as directors, to re-appoint Abhimanyu Mehlawat as whole time director of the company, to appoint Chartered Accountants, Sharma Goel & Co as Statutory Auditors of the Company.

 

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COMMENTS

hasmukh

3 years ago

It is a joke played by the Management (on shareholders) by conducting six AGMs within 90 minutes. The explanation given by the management is foolish and appears like an essay presented by students of an exam : giving out all theoratical arguments in support of having such meetings.
Such Dramas must be stopped by SEBI. SEBI, instead of wasting time in other unnecessary things should attend to such matters.

Gopinath Prabhu

3 years ago

What a foolish answer by IB management. What if hypothetically a shareholder who is common shareholder in all companies (as 80% of them are) holding shares with a paid up capital of Rs 50,000 demand a voting in all 6 meetings? Next year IB investors should make sure they ask for a voting in all 6 AGMs and exercise their right.

US is arming Syrian rebels, but refugees who’ve aided them are considered terrorists

The designation could make it harder for Syrian refugees to come to the US, even if they haven't actually taken up arms against the regime

Authorized by Congress, the CIA has started sending weapons to Syrian rebels. But under a legal definition of terrorism adopted by the U.S. government after the Sept. 11 attacks, those same rebel groups are considered terrorist organizations.
 

The designation could prevent some of the more than 2 million refugees who have fled Syria from coming to the United States, even if they haven’t actually taken up arms against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
 

Groups that appear on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations have long been banned from entering the U.S. But two antiterrorism laws, the Patriot Act and the Real ID Act, also bar members of armed rebel groups that aren’t specifically designated as terrorist organizations.
 

The provisions, sometimes known as terrorism bars, apply to all armed rebel groups — even ones the U.S. is actively supporting.
 

The bars also deny entry to anyone who has given any kind of “material support” — transportation, shelter, money — to such groups.
 

The U.S. has accepted only 64 Syrian refugees in the last two years, according to a State Department spokeswoman. But it’s unclear how many, if any, Syrians have run afoul of the terrorism bars to date.
 

Few Syrians have been resettled overall since the conflict began there in 2011. Instead, the United Nations — which refers refugees for resettlement — has focused on aiding the refugees who are still flowing out of Syria into Lebanon, Turkey and other bordering countries.
 

But the U.N. is preparing to resettle up to 2,000 Syrians in the coming months, said Larry Yungk, senior resettlement officer for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Washington, and the terrorism bars could be a hurdle to resettling them in the U.S.

“We do foresee that there could be issues with some of these cases,” Yungk said.
 

David Garfield, a Washington lawyer who has represented immigrants caught up by the terrorism bars, was more blunt.
 

“For Syrians, I think it’s going to be a major problem,” Garfield said. “The thing about this law that’s so bizarre is that it doesn’t matter who you’re trying to overthrow.”

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman, Christopher Bentley, said in a statement to ProPublica that “any Syrians who do apply for refugee or asylum status could be subject” to the bars.
 

The Citizenship and Immigration website makes clear just how sweeping the laws are: “Significantly, there is no exception under the law for ‘freedom fighters,’ so most rebel groups would be considered to be engaging in terrorist activity even if fighting against an authoritarian regime.” The website also states that refugees can be barred for “providing food, helping to set up tents, distributing literature, or making a small monetary contribution” to rebel groups.
 

“Material support” is defined so broadly that immigrants can be turned away for giving members of rebel groups “a bowl of rice or a few dollars,” said Melanie Nezer, senior director for policy and advocacy with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
 

More than 3,500 applications from those around the world seeking to come to or remain in the U.S. are currently on hold because of the terrorism bars, according to the government. And that likely doesn’t capture the full effect of the bars. The U.N. often doesn’t try to resettle refugees in the U.S. if officials think they might be turned away because of the terrorism bars.
 

In 2007, Congress gave the secretary of homeland security more authority to grant exemptions to rebel groups that don’t pose a threat to the U.S. But putting the exemptions in place has proved to be a slow process that often takes years.
 

A proposed exemption “has to circulate through the whole alphabet soup of agencies in Washington,” said Thomas K. Ragland, a former Justice Department lawyer who has represented immigrants caught up by the terrorism bars.
 

Exemptions typically must be reviewed by, among others, the Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security’s general counsel and Office of Policy. If no objections are raised, exemptions eventually get sent to the secretary of homeland security, who must consult the secretary of state and the attorney general before they’re made official. “It moves at a glacial pace,” Ragland said.
 

Eighteen groups have received exemptions to date, including seven Burmese groups, three Iraqi groups and two Vietnamese groups. The Department of Homeland Security has also issued several broader exemptions, including for individuals who supported rebel groups “under duress.”
 

Citizenship and Immigration would not say whether any exemptions for Syrian groups were in the pipeline.
 

Granting exemptions for certain Syrian groups wouldn’t mean that refugees affiliated with them could automatically enter the U.S. — it would simply remove the legal barrier to letting Syrians who have aided the rebels into the country.
 

The government reviews the case of each refugee, and it would still have the authority to reject applicants with ties to groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a rebel group with ties to Al Qaeda. (The State Department has already designated the Al Nusra Front, another group with Qaeda ties, as a terrorist organization, preventing anyone affiliated with it from entering the country.)
 

The government can also exempt individuals from the terrorism bars.
 

In 2008, the Washington Post ran a front-page story on Saman Kareem Ahmad, a client of Ragland’s who had worked as a translator for the Marines in Iraq but had been turned down when he applied for U.S. permanent residency. The reason: He had served in the militant arm of the Kurdish Democratic Party, which was considered a terrorist group because it had tried to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
 

Ahmad was granted an individual exemption after the story ran, Ragland said. (Homeland Security later issued a group exemption for refugees affiliated with the Kurdish Democratic Party.) But Ragland said such exemptions are rare.
 

“They’re really, really the exception to the rule,” Ragland said. Citizenship and Immigration declined to say how many individual exemptions have been granted.
 

The Department of Homeland Security could issue a general exemption for all Syrians who provided nonviolent support to Syrian rebels, said Anwen Hughes, the deputy director of the refugee protection program at Human Rights First.
 

“There’s an opportunity right now for DHS to fix this and process an exemption that would resolve it,” she said, “before it becomes a crisis.”

 

Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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