Regulations
SEBI drops charges against two persons in Bank of Rajasthan probe

The matter relates to SEBI's investigation into the affairs of BoR for a period between June 2007 and December 2009. SEBI said allegations of breach of relevant regulations by these two do not stand established and therefore, they are absolved of the charges

 
Mumbai: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) dropped its charges against two persons in relation to a probe into the affairs of Bank of Rajasthan (BoR) for alleged irregularities on part of the company's former promoters, reports PTI.
 
In two separate orders, SEBI said allegations of breach of relevant regulations by Utpalkumar Anilkumar Mukhopadhya and Tharmapuram Subhramaniam Narayanasami do not stand established and therefore, they are being absolved of the charges.
 
Both of them had served as directors of Krishna Knitwear Technology Ltd (KKTL), a company alleged to be a person acting in concert (PAC) entity of BoR's former promoters.
 
It was alleged that the two had violated various sections of the SEBI Act and the regulations for prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trade practices. For these violations, SEBI can impose monetary penalties.
 
However, SEBI absolved them of any charges after finding out that they were not KKTL directors during the period for which the probe was conducted by SEBI.
 
The matter relates to SEBI's investigation into the affairs of BoR for a period between June 2007 and December 2009. Since then, BoR has been acquired by ICICI Bank.
 
The probe revealed that BoR's then promoters, led by Pravin Kumar Tayal, along with some companies that were connected to him and his relatives, by way of their continuous disclosure publicly announced that their stake had come down from 44.2% as on quarter ending June 2007 to 28.6% as on quarter ending December 2009.
 
However, it was alleged, though as per disclosure their holding seemed to have reduced, but in reality the holding of the promoters actually increased with the active collusion of front entities.
 
Thus, the shareholding of the promoters of BoR with PACs had increased from 46.8% in June 2007 to 63.15% in December 2009. Krishna Knitwear Technology was alleged to be one such PACs.
 
It was alleged that while the promoters conveyed the impression that they were reducing their shareholding, they did not dilute their controlling stake in BoR.
 
On the contrary, it was alleged that they had actually increased their holding in a deceptive manner with the active collusion with their front entities.
 
SEBI appointed an Adjudicating Officer on 25 January 2012 to look into the alleged violations by Mukhopadhya and Narayanasami and the two were issued show cause notices and granted personal hearings later.
 
Narayanasami, however, told SEBI that he was not a director of any of the companies mentioned in the notice during the investigation period and he was appointed as an Additional Director of Krishna KnitWear Technology Ltd for the first time on 15 October 2010, which is beyond probe period.
 
Narayanasami ceased to be a Director of KKTL with effect from 2 February 2012.
 
Taking into account the reply and the documents, SEBI observed that the allegation in the case mainly was about promoters of BoR and their PACs by their act of concealment of correct disclosure, defrauding the investors of BoR and the market at large.
 
SEBI's adjudicating officer further said submissions made by Narayanasami and the data available with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs show that he was appointed as a Director of KKTL on 15 October 2010 and he was not a director during the relevant period.
 
"After taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances of the case and material available on record, I do not find it a fit case to impose any monetary penalty. The case is accordingly disposed of," the SEBI officer ruled.
 
In his submission before SEBI, Mukhopadhya also said he was not a director of any of the companies named in the notice during the investigation period.
 
He appointed as an Additional Director of KKTL for the first time on 5 May 2010, which is after the investigation period and ceased to be a Director of KKTL with effect from 24 February 2012.
 
"Without going into the merits of the alleged manipulation in the matter, if any, evidence shows that the Noticee (Mukhopadhya) was not a director of the company during the relevant period," SEBI order said, while absolving him of the alleged charges.
 

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ONGC has to show some results—faster!

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has blasted ONGC for not being able to focus on its prime responsibility of exploration. ONGC, charges CAG, has the lowest drilling efficiency compared to its peers!
 
It has been reported in the press that state-owned exploration and refining major ONGC proposes to spend some Rs15,000 crore to drill 480 wells during the 2012-13 period, the highest number in the last 17 years. Out of this, nearly 100 wells have been drilled so far, according to its Director of Technology, UN Bose. However, no discovery has been reported, so far from these wells.
     
Although ONGC has not released details, it appears to have made a big discovery off the nation’s western coast. Whether this is part of the 415 wells drilled in 2011-12 is not known yet, and the target of 480 wells for this fiscal is likely to achieved without much difficulty, as both indigenous and imported (service  providers) equipments are used. The 415 wells drilled in the last fiscal cost Rs13,000 crore.
     
ONGC has not yet identified its new Japanese partner in developing its block in the east coast.  In the NELP VI (sixth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy), ONGC has been awarded 11 deepwater blocks on the east coast. Despite the fact that ONGC has vast experience in exploration and production, the CAG report has emphasised that the company was not focussing on core exploration activities, while new entrants were more successful.
     
It may be noted that the ONGC’s east coast discovery is the deepest gas find made in the country so far, more details of which are awaited.
     
At the moment, what is most important is that ONGC's production comes from the ageing fields and Bombay High offshore only. Therefore, there is the urgent and imperative need to strengthen its exploration and research technology to venture into the unknown and discover the much-needed hydrocarbon resources for the country.

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)

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Government lifts ban on bulk SMSes, MMSes

The restriction on sending more than five SMSes in one go and more than 20 KB of data through mobile phones came into force on 17th August

 

New Delhi: The government on Thursday withdrew the ban on bulk SMSes and MMSes which was imposed to check spread of rumours related to the violence in Assam that led to exodus of people hailing from the north-eastern states from Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Pune, reports PTI.

The decision was taken after the social unrest that gripped various parts of the country due to the rumours generated through SMSes, MMSes and web contents reduced in last few days, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

The restriction on sending more than five SMSes in one go and more than 20 KB of data through mobile phones came into force on 17th August. On 23rd August, the government increased the number of SMSes to 20 per day.

The restriction was put in place after reports of widespread circulation of SMSes and MMSes containing misleading information about the Assam violence, threats to people of north-eastern origin living in other parts of the country and doctored videos.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too had said that spread of rumours by miscreants had led to people hailing to the northeast flee from Bangalore, Pune and other parts of the country.

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