In a day of fast-moving developments, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) first arrested Anand Subramanian, former group operating officer of National Stock Exchange (NSE) and is now understood to have confirmed that he was, indeed, masquerading as the mysterious Himalayan yogi
who was directing decisions of Chitra Ramkrishna, the powerful former managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO). He did this through and email ID called [email protected]
and a forensic audit by Ernst & Young (E&Y) had told the market regulator with a high degree of probability that the email ID rigyaj[email protected]
was indeed, operated by Mr Subramanian.
For some strange reason, Anant Barua, a whole-time member (WTM) of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), in his 192-page order issued on 11th February, had raised doubts as to the identity of the ‘yogi’ behind the email ID, without any independent effort on the regulator's part to come to a definitive conclusion. This is among the many strange aspects of the SEBI order.
J Ravichandran Let Off
Another, interesting aspect of the SEBI order is that J Ravichandran, who is still the group president and company secretary at NSE and was the fourth noticee in the SEBI’s show-cause notice has been let off without any explanation about why his role in hiding the fact that Mr Subramanian was a key management person (KMP) was condoned by the regulator.
In fact, the SEBI order quotes Ms Ramkrishna saying, “The Statutory Compliance Team, then headed by Dr VR Narasimhan, or the Legal and Regulatory team, then headed by Mr J Ravichandran, was responsible for compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements, ought to have taken the necessary steps at the relevant time, if it was a statutory requirement to declare any person as a KMP.”
The SEBI order has an elaborate discussion on the conversation between Ms Ramkrishna and the unknown yogi about Mr Ravichandran’s designation and status; moreover, like Ravi Narain, the former vice-chairman, he has not only been at NSE for over two decades but has been in charge of compliance and legal matters. The omission of any action against him has come in for discussion inside SEBI as well as among capital market circles.
Dr VR Narasimhan Quits NISM
In a third development, Dr VR Narasimhan, former chief regulatory and compliance officer, appears to have quit as the dean of the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) which is a capital market certification school set up by SEBI. Moneylife alone highlighted the fact that SEBI had appointed him to NISM and permitted him to continue despite a show-cause notice issued as far back as 2019.
In response to our query, we were told, “SEBI doesn’t interfere in the day to day administration of NISM. Dr Narasimhan’s tenure is till April 2022 claims that NISM makes independent decisions.” The SEBI chairman heads the board of governors of NISM. The NISM website no longer lists Dr Narasimhan as its dean
He was indicted by SEBI saying, “As a matter of duty, Dr Narasimhan as compliance officer under the SECC Regulations, 2012 was required to report to SEBI independently about non-compliance of SECC Regulations, 2012 with respect of the re-designation of Anand Subramanian as ‘group operating officer and advisor to MD’ which was also not done. In view of the above, it was observed that VR Narasimhan has failed to address the issue properly in line with his defined role and responsibility and made misleading and incorrect statements to SEBI on compliance with the SECC Regulations, 2012 resulting in suppression of the irregularities.”
By way of background, a forensic audit by E&Y on the Colo scam had revealed, way back in 2015, that Ms Ramkrishna was sharing internal confidential information about NSE’s organisational structure, financial results and policies and seeking guidance on internal issues with an outsider whose email ID was rigyajursa[email protected]
(it combined the names of the three vedas).
An email from the so-called guru that exposes how Ms Ramkrishna acted as a mere puppet says, “Don’t worry the straw knows when to be a capillary and when NOT to. Kanchan is the straw and I will be the suction force for this and you will vomit all that is required as always.” Kanchan, referred to in the email is Subbu and the issue under discussion is how to lobby the government to permit self-listing by the NSE.
Most emails from this guru’s ID ([email protected]
) are copied to Mr Subramanian (Subbu) whose career was closely tracked by the ‘guru’ by copying him in correspondence with Ms Ramkrishna.
And, yet, SEBI alone was unable to come to any final conclusion as to his identity, but still does not recommend further investigation to establish it. Instead, SEBI attempts to bury matters with paltry penalties and a meaningless order barring six entities from the capital market.
SEBI’s order had observed, “… from the record of events of the appointment of Anand Subramanian and substantial increase in his emoluments every year and the delegation of powers akin to that of MD & CEO, along with the email exchanges between Chitra Ramkrishna with the unknown person where Anand Subramanian was also a recipient, it is clear that there has been a conspiracy for the appointment and rise of Anand Subramanian in NSE. I find that this was being implemented by Chitra Ramkrishna through the unknown person who greatly favoured Anand Subramanian,” Mr Barua, the WTM of SEBI says in the order.
Mr Subramanian was arrested on Thursday night from Chennai by CBI and produced before a Delhi court which sent him to CBI custody till 6th March.
CBI sources told IANS that since he had access to the emails sent to the yogi, they suspect they can be the same. However, the agency did not officially confirm it.
Earlier in the day, the agency told the court that they needed custodial interrogation of Subramanian to confront him with seized articles and others involved in the case, and the court, accepting their argument, sent him to CBI custody.
A source told IANS that Mr Subramanian's statement was recorded for three consecutive days at Chennai, but he was found to be 'evasive'.
Last week, Chitra Ramkrishna, the ex-MD and CEO of NSE, was grilled by the CBI in Mumbai. On 18th February, she recorded her statement with the agency.
The CBI had already issued an LoC (look out circular) against Chitra, Anand Subramanian, the former group operating officer and Ravi Narain, the ex-NSE CEO (before Chitra).
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