Bombay HC Bars Anugrah Stock & Broking from Using Client Assets Worth Rs58 Crore
The Bombay High Court has barred crisis-hit Anugrah Stock and Broking Pvt Ltd from using assets worth Rs58 crore that belong to more than 25 investors who filed a petition after the firm has stopped responding to them and their accounts have become inaccessible.
Justice Gautam Patel, in his interim order, has asked the brokerage not to use assets of its investor-clients for its ordinary and usual course of business. It is learnt that advocate Rohaan Cama, representing Anugrah Stock & Broking, offered to disclose all movable, immovable and financial assets of the brokerage firm, along with details of any encumbrance on them.
Investors were represented by Dr Birendra Saraf of Parinam Law Associates. The claims of each client have been filed as separate cases and their total investment adds up to Rs58 crore. But this is just a fraction of investors who are planning to seek legal help to recover their investment.
Hundreds of investors have lost large sums of money, with one south Mumbai-based family alone having invested over Rs150 crore. So the number of litigants is likely to swell, unless other investors seek other options.
The bulk of investors in Anugrah have come through an associate firm called Teji Mandi Analytics which was apparently running a derivatives portfolio of over Rs1,000 crore like a Ponzi scheme with assured monthly returns. A director of this firm, Anil Gandhi has been selectively interacting with some clients and assuring them about their money being returned. Investors tell Moneylife that even on Monday night, Mr Gandhi engaged a group of investors on a zoom call that went on from around midnight to 2am.
He claims to be working with Anugrah to find out the extent of sale of collateral but says that National Stock Exchange (NSE) has taken away “all his computers and data” to his office. The bottom-line is that as of now, none of the investors are sure about the safety of their money. Some investors have been smart enough to access their accounts with CDSL (Central depository of Shares Limited) and lock their share that are still available. Many others have been distressed to find that there are no share in their demand accounts at all.
Meanwhile the NSE, ICICI Bank, which became the clearing broker for Anugrah in June this year, and the market regulator Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) are all silent.
As reported by Moneylife,
last month, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) had given a reprieve to Anugrah Stock & Broking against action from NSE. However, SAT had asked the brokerage to deposit Rs165 crore with the NSE within two weeks, while granting three weeks to file a response.
NSE discovered that Anugrah was running an unauthorised derivatives advisory service (DAS) through an associate firm called Om Shri Sai Investments (OSSI) since 2017. The service was shut down in 2019. It had collected Rs165.10 crore from investors. NSE issued a show-cause notice on 17th July and asked Anugrah to respond by 27th July. A day before the deadline ended, the brokerage firm asked for more time. However, on 3 August 2020, NSE shut down Anugrah’s trading rights in all derivatives segments, including futures, options, commodities and currency. Anugrah Stock & Broking then rushed to the SAT.
However, as per a news report, during the hearing before Bombay HC, Dr Saraf contended that "NSE had barred Anugrah from running a derivative trade advisory service but the SAT stayed that order subject to the company depositing Rs165 crore with it within two weeks...that deadline ended on Monday but Anugrah was yet to make the payment."
Mr Cama, representing the brokerage, however, rebutted the claims saying that Anugrah Stock & Broking will file a detailed response to the petitions.
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