While the big multinational Standard Chartered Bank was allowed to blank out disclosure of litigation, then why were Indian banks such as Lakshmi Vilas Bank and United Bank of India not allowed this favour?
Even as the first-ever Indian Depository Receipt (IDR) issue of Standard Chartered Plc is set to open in the Indian capital markets on 25 May 2010, questions about its non-disclosure of numerous litigations still remain open. The bank’s name was involved in the 1992 Harshad Mehta securities scam, which rocked the Indian capital market. However, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has turned a blind eye over all its pending litigations and has quietly passed the red herring prospectus (RHP), while Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd and United Bank of India have had to disclose all their pending litigations.
Standard Chartered has been taking the stand that the litigation is not ‘material’. The question then remains, why did SEBI seek a disclosure from these two Indian banks?
Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ltd, in which the Harshad Mehta Group held 2,700 shares in connection with the 1992 securities scam, disclosed the case in its draft red herring prospectus which reads: “The Bank has 14 cases as on date involving title suits relating to shares between various parties wherein the Bank is a proforma party and awaiting decision of the said courts. Noteworthy to mention is a case filed in the Sub Court under Special Court (TORTS) Act, 1992 by the Custodian in 1996 for shares held by (the) Harshad Mehta Group totalling 2,700 shares held by various parties and the matter is still pending.”
Similarly, United Bank of India, which hit the market earlier this year, disclosed all its cases against its chairman and directors, civil proceedings, labour and employment cases and other cases related to the bank. There was no mention of the bank’s involvement in the scam. The RHP had one case filed by SEBI against the bank, 18 civil cases, approximately 162 cases pertaining to labour and employment issues (as on 1 March 2010) and three other cases.
“As of the date of this Draft Red Herring Prospectus, neither the Company, any member of the Group, any Director, or any material associate of the Company (emphasis ours) are involved in any material governmental, legal or arbitration proceedings or litigation and the Company is not aware of any pending or threatened material governmental, legal or arbitration proceedings or litigation relating to the Company, any member of the Group, any Director or any material associate which, in either case, may have a significant effect on the performance of the Group, and there are no liabilities or defaults (including arrears and potential liabilities) in relation to such material proceedings or litigation which would be required to be disclosed under the SEBI Regulations,” states page 419 of Standard Chartered’s red herring prospectus.
However there are at least half-a-dozen cases filed against the bank by the Enforcement Directorate in 2002.
Earlier, Arijit De, head of external communications of Standard Chartered India replied to an email query by Moneylife: “The IDRs represent the shares of Standard Chartered (SC) plc, UK, the ultimate parent company of Standard Chartered Bank, India. In accordance with the disclosure requirements under SEBI Regulations, IDR Rules, other applicable laws and international practice, SC plc has made appropriate disclosures of all material issues in the draft offer document filed with SEBI. We have nothing further to add beyond what is disclosed in the DRHP.”
Moneylife had previously reported about this issue and had raised the matter with SEBI but we have still not received any response.
(Read here: http://www.moneylife.in/article/8/4778.html).
Mumbai city was paralysed when the Central and Western Railway motormen went on strike early this month. A fast-track committee is expected to look into their demands and a decision is expected on 15th June—but will anything happen?
Mumbai’s local train service, which is the city’s lifeline, came to a standstill due to the Central and Western Railway motormen strike early this month. The strike also witnessed members of Parliament, including Sanjay Nirupam, raising the issue in the House. The strike ended on the second day after it had started (4th May). However, the issue has still not been resolved. Mumbai’s denizens may be hit by another strike after 15th June, as the ‘fast-track’ committee is not empowered to deal with this issue.
In fact, the committee is not the right authority to resolve the issue. In 2006, a new wage settlement was decided based on the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. This wage settlement was for all government and public sector employees.
The new wage settlement reduced the eight pay-scale categories to four pay-scale categories for the Indian Railways. With this reduction, railway guards were clubbed along with motormen for the first time in the same category. Before that, guards along with a few other positions were on a lower pay scale than the motormen. This is now a major issue for motormen, who have been affected by the changes, and that is the crux of the problem.
Motormen believe that their services have not been valued as they have been placed on par with positions which earlier were a part of a lower grade.
Moreover, the motormen were also encouraged by a political party in their agitation. Faced with negative political fallout and a possible law-and-order problem, the Maharashtra Home ministry patched up a face-saving act by announcing that a
fast-track committee would be set up to resolve the matter.
The sanctity of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations is higher than what the fast-track committee can decide upon.
The authorities who can decide the issue are the Departmental Pay Anomaly Committee and the National Pay Anomaly Committee. The motormen’s union has already appealed to them and their case is still pending.
While 15 June 2010 is the new date for the fast-track committee to take a decision, it cannot do so. Incidentally, the Bombay High Court’s hearing on the same case is also scheduled for 15th June.
Will the motormen dare to cripple Mumbai again? If they do so, it will be after the monsoon has set in and public anger will be even worse than before.
Besides other demands, the motormen’s union has also asked to raise the kilometre ceiling to 300km. Motormen working in the Central and Western Railway are entitled to payments equivalent to a minimum of 150km driven by them.
The Indian Railway Board is fairly placed to decide this issue by itself. The union has also demanded special leave entitlements for motormen, which again, is most likely to be rejected. It would be difficult to discriminate among railway workers, by allowing special leave entitlements exclusively for motormen.
With such constraints, it remains to be seen how motormen will act after 15th June, as a second strike is likely to trigger more public anger.
“You will have to contact the fast-track committee for these details,” said SS Gupta, chief public relations officer (CPRO), Mumbai division, Western Railway.
With the minor rally over, the next support for the Sensex is between 16300-16,100
The market traded range-bound throughout the day and ended with modest gains on Thursday. The Sensex ended the day at 16,519, higher by 111 points (0.7%) while the Nifty closed at 4,947, higher by 28 points (0.6%). The bourses pared early gains soon and traded in a narrow range till afternoon. The market rebounded in the afternoon session on strong European markets and touched its intraday high. However, it came down from that level to trade in a narrow range for the rest of the trading session.
Asian stocks were down on Thursday as concerns over the fiscal deficit in the eurozone weighed down sentiment. Investors remain jittery after Germany's decision late on Tuesday to ban naked short-selling in sovereign debt and some financial stocks. Key benchmark indices in China, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan fell by 0.17% to 1.83%.
US markets were down on Wednesday on concerns over Germany's unilateral action to ban specific trades in some stocks and bonds. Germany’s move appeared to catch its partners in the European Union off-guard. The Dow was down 66 points (0.6%) to 10,444. The S&P 500 was down 5.7 points (0.5%) to 1,115. The Nasdaq was down 19 points (0.8%) to 2,298.
Back home, food price inflation picked up marginally for the second consecutive week in early May. It was up 16.49%, higher than the previous week’s reading of 16.44%. The fuel price index was steady at 12.33%, while the primary articles index was up 16.19% versus 16.76%.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that the Greece debt crisis may have an impact on India’s trade. Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) were net sellers of Rs1,383 crore. Domestic Institutional Investors (DIIs) were net buyers of Rs56 crore. The rupee was down on the dollar’s gain against other major global currencies despite a gain in the equity market.
Kale Consultants (down 0.9%) has announced the introduction of a rate shopping tool, Travel Shop. This tool empowers travel agencies to benchmark their own rates against those of competitors on various days or periods in the future and gives a quick insight over how the market and competitors are behaving and accordingly assists to set their rates.
Reliance Industries (RIL) (up 0.1%) has suspended drilling operations in the east coast because of the threat of Cyclone Laila. The rigs operating in its contract areas were moved to safe zones. Nissan Copper (up 3.2%) has concluded placement of 5,000,000 Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) at $4.48 per GDR (representing 25,000,000 equity shares of Rs10 each). The board has also approved and allotted 5,000,000 GDRs and 25,000,000 underlying shares of Rs10 each representing the GDR. Tata Teleservices Maharashtra (TTML) (up 0.7%) has won the bid for 3G spectrum in the Circle A of Maharashtra with a bid value of Rs1,257.82 crore. The win in Maharashtra (and Goa) gives TTML access to the 3G spectrum for the next 20 years and will help the company consolidate its market share in this region which has a very high potential.
Jindal Steel & Power (up 1.2%), through its 100% subsidiary Jindal Steel & Power (Mauritius) Ltd has agreed to acquire Oman-based Shadeed Iron & Steel Co LLC for a consideration of $464 million, including the assumption of liabilities of up to $79 million by executing a definitive share purchase agreement.