Will continue taking steps to protect investors: SEBI

New Delhi: Even as more details emerge out of the multi-crore housing-finance scam, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) today said it would continue to take steps to protect the interest of investors, reports PTI.

“The regulator’s job is investor protection. So, we (will) continue to take steps to protect investors,” SEBI whole-time member Prashant Saran told reporters on the sidelines of the Assocham summit.

He further said, “SEBI already looks into the market dynamics... whenever we find something, we investigate. That is what we do.”

His comments accompany the volatility in stock markets in the aftermath of the housing-finance scandal; Popular BSE index Sensex has nosedived 640 points in the past three trading sessions. Further, continuing its downward journey, it plunged by another 181.55 points today.

The housing-finance scam came to light this week, when on 24th November the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) busted a major housing loan racket and arrested among others, CEO of LIC Housing Finance Ramachandran Nair, on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy.

The officials were arrested on allegations that while sanctioning large scale loans to corporates, they were working in collusion with loan arranger firm Money Matters and overlooked regulatory guidelines for granting such approvals, for their individual monetary gains.

Apart from Mr Nair, secretary (investment), LIC, Naresh K Chopra, general manager of Bank of India (Delhi) R N Tayal, director of Central Bank of India, Maninder Singh Johar, and deputy GM of Punjab National Bank (Delhi) Venkoba Gujjal were also manned.

Rajesh Sharma, chairman and managing director of Mumbai-based firm Money Matters Ltd and two of its employees—Suresh Gattani and Sanjay Sharma—were also arrested.


Slow pace of cane crushing unlikely to hit sugar output: Pawar

New Delhi: Food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today informed Parliament that the country's overall sugar output was unlikely to decline this year on account of slow pace of cane crushing in some states, reports PTI.

“The initial slow pace of production by sugar mills in some states is unlikely to decrease production of sugar in the current sugar season as a whole,” Mr Pawar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha today.

Of the total 600-odd sugar mills in the country, only 199 mills have started crushing operations in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka till 15th November of the current sugar season, which runs from October to September, according to official data.

Mr Pawar said that unseasonal rains during the October-November period of the 2010-11 sugar season have slowed down cane crushing activity in states like Maharashtra, the country’s biggest sugar producing state.

However, the minister exuded confidence that “the mills are likely to make it up in the course of time.”

After two years decline, sugar production in India, which is the world's second biggest producer, is estimated to be higher than demand at 24.5 million tonnes in the 2010-11 sugar season.

The country, which is the world's largest consumer of sugar, has an annual demand of about 23 million tonnes. Last year, the sugar output stood at 19 million.


No directions to public lenders to cut real estate exposure: Centre

New Delhi: The government today said it has not directed public sector banks to cut exposure in real estate following the housing-finance bribery scam, reports PTI.

“No… Why should we say this,” financial services secretary R Gopalan told reporters when asked if the government has given such directions to the state-run banks.

The comments come in the wake of the housing finance scam unearthed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which arrested the CEO of LIC Housing Finance, Ramachandran Nair, LIC secretary (investment) Naresh K Chopra and six other senior bankers in connection with a housing-finance racket.

The CBI has also issued notices to 21 companies to provide all the documents related to the case and explain any benefits received by them as also favours extended to the accused persons.

Going by reports, the multi-crore scam could have an adverse impact on property prices, as lenders could tighten the norms for giving loans to realty players.


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