Do Stockguru investors have a case against SEBI and RBI?

Stockguru, a chain-money scheme, openly flouted various SEBI rules. Moneylife pointed this out in December 2010 and again in April 2011 but SEBI, under both former chairman CB Bhave and current chairman UK Sinha, and RBI took no action. Aggrieved investors can possibly file a case of gross regulatory lapse against SEBI and RBI

Promoters of Stockguru, a chain money scheme, have been arrested by the Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) for duping over two lakh people from Delhi, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. This scheme has been going on for sometime, right under the nose of the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) but despite two reports in Moneylife highlighting this illegal scheme, the market regulator and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) chose not to act.

In December 2010, Moneylife had reported about the dubious modus operandi of Stockguru.India and advised investors to stay away from investing in the company. (This MLM openly flouts SEBI norms and offers 120% returns in a year through stock market investment!).

The article, described the modus operandi of Stockguru and precisely why it fell foul of regulations even before it duped investors and ran away. Timely action by the regulators then could have saved investors’ money. Here is what Moneylife said on 27 December 2010, when chairman CB Bhave headed SEBI.

Stockguru.India and its group companies are self-styled investment advisors, offering Rs22,000 on an investment of Rs10,000 in one year.

We said, “As if there were not enough potholes on the stock market route, here is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that is promising 20% returns per month! The company Stockguru.India describes itself as the country’s ‘Premier Financial Consultancy’, offering trading solutions in equity, derivatives, currency futures, commodities trading, initial public offerings (IPOs), insurance (life/non-life), general insurance, mutual funds, portfolio management services, terminal handling all under one roof.” (the company’s portal) had only one standard line of advice in all market situations—whether it is a bull market or a bear market, range-bound market or volatile market. It said, “We advise our clients to buy shares at a low price and sell them at a higher price. Selecting the right share at the right price and entering the capital market at the right time is an art. We help all our clients to make huge profits by investing in good shares for very short/short/medium/long-term depending upon the client’s requirements. Trading/investment for minimum intraday to T+5 days may give you a handsome return of 5% to 25% on your capital investment.”

This MLM company’s investment (!) plan was simple. You pay Rs10,000 as investment and Rs1,000 as registration fees. There is no limit on the maximum amount one can invest. offered a return of 20% per month for up to six months and the principal amount invested is returned in the next six months. It also gave post-dated cheques of the principal and a promissory note as security. In short, on an investment of Rs11,000, the company offers to pay you Rs12,000 in six months and the rest Rs10,000 over the next six months, a total of Rs22,000 or a 120% return in a year.”

Stockguru lured investors with an additional 3% per month income through a binary plan of 27 levels. Binary plans of MLM companies are the new clients you bring in, who are placed below you in rank in a right and left combination. It’s nothing but a trap. All MLM companies promise say you rewards if you complete the left leg-right leg cycle. But in practice this does not happen. A majority of those participating fall in the category where they lack a single member in one leg, or a member becomes inactive thus freezing the spread of that leg and the business.

How do MLM companies operate without a trading license from the regulators, SEBI and RBI? Why was there been no action against Stockguru.India, and its subsidiaries by SEBI or RBI? Market regulator SEBI had, on its part, issued SEBI (Investment Advisers) Regulations, 2007 (the ‘Draft Regulations’) to regulate the advisory activities of investment advisers in India. But till date it has remained as a draft only.

According to the SEBI Act, 1992, “No stock-broker, sub-broker, share transfer agent, banker to an issue, trustee of trust deed, registrar to an issue, merchant banker, underwriter, portfolio manager, investment adviser and such other intermediary who may be associated with the securities market shall buy, sell or deal in securities except under, and in accordance with, the conditions of a certificate of registration obtained from the Board in accordance with the regulations made under this Act.” In addition, the Act says, “No person shall sponsor or cause to be sponsored or carry on or caused to be carried on any venture capital funds or collective investment scheme (CIS) including mutual funds, unless he obtains a certificate of registration from the Board in accordance with the regulations.”

Stockguru.India and all its group companies openly flouted the norms and rules. It was not registered with SEBI as investment adviser and still offers to trade on behalf of its clients. According to information available over the internet, Stockguru.India and its chairman and managing director Lokeshwar Dev, will help anyone to open a demat account with Sharekhan so that they can manage the investor’s money.

We checked with Sharekhan and the brokerage said, neither Stockguru.India nor Lokeshwar Dev has any relations with or any demat account with them. In addition, neither Stockguru.India nor any of its group companies possess a certificate of registration from SEBI for CIS, but they are still collecting huge amounts from clients under the pretext of stock market investment. Are the regulators sleeping on this one?

Moneylife didn’t stop at that. We wrote again on 9 April 2011: Stockguru.India allegedly dupes 2 lakh investors of over Rs1,000 crore. By this time, Lokeshvar Dev had apparently absconded and investors were running helter-skelter for their money. SEBI was now headed by a new chairman, UK Sinha.

On 18 May 2011, Moneylife Foundation sent a representation to the prime minister of India and all the financial regulators seeking urgent action against MLMs. While urging the government to ban MLMs altogether in the aftermath of the devastating losses caused by SpeakAsia, a Singapore-registered company, which raised well over Rs1,300 crore in less than a year.  We wrote: “Unlike several other countries, MLM schemes are not banned in India. Hence, schemes like City Limousine, Stockguru and GoldQuest could escape with millions. None of the financial watchdogs in India are responsible for monitoring such schemes, so there is every chance that SpeakAsia and its clones like Ram Survey and FLC Online can get away after cheating millions of their savings”. Here is a link to the memorandum:

In the latest issue of Moneylife magazine we wrote that the government may finally be in a mood to tighten legislation against MLMs. Will they? Or is it more talk once again? After all, MLMs are funding political parties and have turned extremely powerful. Here is the crux of the problem: Moneylife has persistently written about how Ponzis, chit funds or multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes have been looting ordinary Indians through their false promises of extraordinary returns. An international consultant to MLMs writes to say, “Your country is overrun with pyramid schemes.” True, but so long as they are close to political parties, the government doesn’t seem to care. It is a well-known fact that founders of Ponzis and MLMs are the primary financiers of regional parties and derive their own financial muscle through these connections. They are now buying regional television channels and acquiring stakes in print publications to enhance their clout. The founder of one such Ponzi network, who has operations and political links with two state governments, has even bagged a nomination to the Rajya Sabha.

While the EOW has arrested the promoters of Stockguru, there is enough of documented evidence this time of gross r egulatory failure of various agencies, primarily SEBI, under two different chairmen and RBI. Will Stockguru investors file a case against these two callous regulators?

1 decade ago
Suchita Dalal says "Stockguru, a chain-money scheme, openly flouted various SEBI rules. Moneylife pointed this out in December 2010 and again in April 2011 but SEBI, under both former chairman CB Bhave and current chairman UK Sinha, and RBI took no action."

These worthies appointed as Chairmen of SEBI are expected to be pro-active. At the whiff of an irregularity they are endowed with enough powers to go hammer and tongs to come down heavily on the scamsters. More so when they have been alerted by Moneylife. They are charged by SEBI act with the mandate to protect the interest of Investors at all costs.

In reality, these worthies are in perpetual deep slumber. Even after Sucheta points out in Dec10 as well as in Apr 11 they are not even reactive. They could not care less. Interests of investors can go to hell as long as they are sure of their pay, perks and retirement benefits.

They should be punished exemplarily for dereliction of their duties.

Somebody should bell the cat and drag them over the coals. That is the day onwards such scams will cease happening as the regulators will become pro-active and mean business.We can all pitch in to support that 'somebody'.

Till these Chairmen are dealt with sternly these scams are not going to end.

Mohan Raj
16 Nov 12

1 decade ago
Please refer to Sucheta Dalals’ article in Moneylife:“Do Stockguru investors have a case against SEBI and RBI?” My view is that investors definitely have a case against SEBI. This is primarily based on the fact that Moneylife had already given the details of the apparently illegal scheme(s) and modus operandi in their December 2010 write-up and followed it up in 2011. Since Stockguru was offering advice and services relating to the securities market, SEBI should have acted on these reports and representations. But, as usual, it did nothing. It was/is obligatory upon SEBI to take action to nip the problem in the bud. Penalties under section 23(g) and 23 (h) of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act (besides provisions of SEBI Act already quoted by Moneylife) could have been invoked by SEBI for filing a case in the Sessions Court u/s 26. The penalty prescribed, under SCR Act can act as a deterrent only if they are initiated timely and invoked by the regulator. It is high time investors start demanding accountability of SEBI and its erring officials who are designated to monitor such complaints for action.
23.Penalties-(1) Any person who-
(g) not being a member of a recognised stock exchange or his agent authorised as such under the rules or bye-laws of such stock exchange or not being a dealer in securities licensed under section 17 willfully represents to or induces any person to believe that contracts can be entered into or performed under this Act through him; or (h) not being a member of a recognised stock exchange or his agent authorised as such under the rules or bye-laws of such stock exchange or not being a dealer in securities licensed under section 17, canvasses, advertises or touts in any manner either for himself or on behalf of any other persons for any business connected with contracts in contravention of any of the provisions of this Act; or shall, without prejudice to any award of penalty by the Adjudicating Officer under this Act, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years or with fine, which may extend to twenty-five crore rupees, or with both. Virendra Jain, President, Midas Touch Investors Association
jaideep shirali
1 decade ago
I find our investor psychology baffling. Senior citizens who trust only bank deposits, gladly put money into such schemes. Other investors who invest in PPF at less than 10% p.a. also invest at 10% per month in such schemes, without questions. Why would any businessman starting from Tatas & Birlas, bother to do anything else, but invest for 120% annual returns ? The answer is obvious. But, sadly,we seem to have no dearth of fools and as they say, a fool and his money are soon and easily parted. Greed wins over caution.
Vaibhav Dhoka
1 decade ago
All regulators in India turn blind eye to most of the scams they never take action on their own,but also fails to take cognisance of complaint agist registred brokers too who flauts all rules to cheat investor.In my case
1)Kotak Securities appointed Mateo Consultant Ltd as its FRANCHISEE.i.e to say and write that it functioned in name of Kotak Securities under its registration.
3)In 2004 SLBS avtivity was permitted by SEBI by only THREE brokers (1)Stock Hoding Corporation.(2)Kotak Securities Ltd(3) I.&fls
4)Kotak Securities fraudulantly thro,its FRANCHISEE.Mateo got 1000 Ranbaxy shares valued at Rs1500000=00transferred to its demat account in its own DP
5) Within 4 montsKotak Securities shut its franchisses shop and disowned him
6)N nunber of complaint was sent to SEBI/NSE/BSE without any action
7)The modus operindi at SEBI is it acts only as postman then why it is given STATUS OF REGULATOR.
8)NSE's circular of 2000 April says that all brokers should deal thro' registred intermediaries only & if they deal thro' unregistered intermediary they should immediately stop dealing thro'him,and THEYARE LIABLE FOR ALL ACTS COMMISSION AND OMMISSION BY SUCH INTERMEDIARY.
9) SEBI has informed that franchissees are not recognised.
With all proof and their own circulars nonefrom SEBI,NSE,BSE DARE to Touch high profile broker whose Chairman Mr Uday Kotak is on committee to frame guidlines for Investors.
When I was at NSE arbitration hearin on 23 August I got result before going in for hearinf.
The Economic offence winf of Pune police also didnot act.
This is the reason why stock markets are loosing small investors
WE have Impotant regulato in SEBI and scam taintaed brokers at Stock exchanges,What these poor investors of stockguru can EXPECT from AUTHORITIES.
ALL THIS IS BECAUSE WE HAVE DEFUNCT JUDICIARY.Remember CRB scam is about 15 years old without a paise to sinle investor.
Sweena Jain
Replied to Vaibhav Dhoka comment 1 decade ago
Sorry state of affair at all regulators and authrities.When lagal dealings are not settlled what is hope for illegal ACTIVITY in India.
R Balakrishnan
1 decade ago
India is a fertile ground for financial crimes. Globally, punishment for white collar crimes are lower than for other crimes. It is almost perverse that someone who gets rich by fraudulent means, uses that wealth to get best legal advice and get away lightly. Recent example is Rajat Gupta.
In India, the criminal is further emboldened by our useless regulators. I have personal experience where a problem was told to the RBI ( a very very senior person) and he wanted us to 'bring it to notice' in writing. There were huge banners about that schemes, right outside RBI building! They never acted on it.
The law will not give any relief to people who lost.
In almost all countries, it is prohibited for anyone to accept money unless the entity has a banking license. Here, the RBI blandly prescribes some rules and anyone can accept deposits. NBFCs, chit fund companies, cooperative banks etc. India must also be the only country where a non bank non finance company can accept retail fixed deposits! So, our system is geared towards financial leniency.
The only safeguard is the media. However, what compounds the problem is human greed. People deservingly lose money when they expect to get two to ten percent returns each month! Only two businesses give such returns and those businesses don't borrow money.
1 decade ago
1) Is there NO way of ensuring swift legal action and harsh punishment (which can serve as a deterrent for others) for such Fraudsters? &

2) When are we, the people of India, going to realize that there’s simply NO way to quickly make a lot of money out of little money – Rather such ponzi schemes time and again have turned a lot of money in to no money within very quick time

This obsession of trying to get rich quickly without any kind of effort is the root cause of such misery. Do not know whether to laugh or cry?
nagesh kini
Replied to Nilesh KAMERKAR comment 1 decade ago
When there are 2,50,000 gullible investors part with crores with their eyes wide open just on hearing a glib power point presentation in a leading 5 star hotel they need to be termed extremely greedy. It is rightly said a fool and his money are soon parted. They pay for trying to get rich quick! Money Life had warned them!
Dr Anantha K Ramdas
1 decade ago
Ms Sucheta: Thanks for raising this issue again, but we are all knocking our head against the brick-wall built by the government agencies who do not want to take stringent action against wrong doers who are looting the public, who, I am afraid, are also gullible to fall into such traps.

Even if the couple are caught, who may have changed identities, got the money out of the country and so on, our legal procedures are so long and winding, nothing will happen to them. In the end they will pay a nominal fine or spent a couple of years in jail and come out "because there is no sufficient evidence of malpractice etc etc"

It is a sad state of affairs and this scam is one of the hundreds that we get on our emails when we get millions of pounds from Microsoft to
nagesh kini
1 decade ago
Money Life has once again been proved right!
Ketan Parekh, CRB, Satyam where a bunch of hard core professionals pulled off massive scams.This is a primarily well planned job of high school drop-outs from small towns.They managed to succeed in conning 2.5 lakh gullible 'investors' right under the noses of the so-called Regulators.SEBI and RBI have been grossly negligent in choosing to turn blind eye despite being on notice by ML.
This very rightly proves the old adage
"Duniya jukthi hai,
jhukanewala chayehe". QED
nagesh kini
1 decade ago
Money Life has once again been proved right!
Ketan Parekh, CRB, Satyam where a bunch of hard core professionals pulled off massive scams.This is a primarily well planned job of high school drop-outs from small towns.They managed to succeed in conning 2.5 lakh gullible 'investors' right under the noses of the so-called Regulators.SEBI and RBI have been grossly negligent in choosing to turn blind eye despite being on notice by ML.
This very rightly proves the old adage
"Duniya jukthi hai,
jhukanewala chayehe". QED
1 decade ago
MLM schemes in india is really fake I request people don't join or invest money in such company.
These people tell just come and attend the seminar and presentation that will provide you better knowledge of the company, job and income , over there they will just do the brainwash. They will also show some document which is registered under govt of india but it might be old and they may not be renewed.
Veeresh Malik
1 decade ago
Here is one article on what the ED is doing on the subject.


"50 multilevel marketing firms are under economic offences wing probe"

"Besides SpeakAsia, the firms under probe include Aryarup Travel, City Limouzine, Red Carpet, Admatrix, Seven Rings International, Symbiosis Investment, Aim Limousine, Yes Cube Infrastructure Ltd, Aurum Realty, Raj Investment and VeriSign Infrastructure."

I will add this much - even bankers are approached by such MLM scam companies.
Replied to Veeresh Malik comment 1 decade ago
Sir, don't leave out insurance companies
1 decade ago
There are several misleading advertisements floating in the media these days. Ideally, at the present stage of literacy, government should own up the responsibility to protect the interests of savers and investors by creating necessary awareness about the chances of getting cheated. A responsible media should also resist the temptation to collect as much revenue, from whichever source it comes from, without bothering about the content and consequences. But what we see is that even the so called ‘national’ or mainstream media selling space aggressively and taking shelter under a ‘small print’ warning that the paper is not responsible for the decisions taken on the basis of ads. Having said that, it is difficult to believe that the average Indian is so innocent to go after schemes which promise a return of 120 per cent per annum without any physical or intellectual contribution by the investor. But miracles do happen!
1 decade ago

How I saved a poor and illiterate maid

I now recall this incident in my life. If I go by the details getting from media of the Rs 500 cr fraud, I think that our poor and illiterate maid servant in Mumbai had miraculous escape from being cheated. Our maid in Mumbai was telling my wife about someone who is holding a meeting in Chruchgate and promising huge returns on investments. My wife, who was very fond of that maid, smelt a rat in this and wanted me to advise her. Me not so educated and experienced like those MLM gurus of the world, told her my view of this – which can be called a common man’s view. Thankfully she had trust in us and did not get into this trap. Today she is also an aware citizen and will not get trapped into such things in future.

Responsibility of the Media

But somewhere media to be blamed for this as well. These fraudsters lured these poor investors through press advertisements . Did they check their credentials before they released their ads. Today they have no moral right to accuse these fraudsters and press also should be accountable to this serious mess.
prakash nandedkar
1 decade ago
What type of case against RBI?Just by saying case, a case is not made out,it surely needs a foundation.
Sucheta Dalal
Replied to prakash nandedkar comment 1 decade ago
Do read Moneylife regularly sir. Over the past six years we have repeatedly written to the RBI Deputy Governor asking for action against Ponzis and MLMs because they are finance companies. All it does is ask for Chief Secretaries of States to take action.
There is a High Level Committee of Financial Regulators which is headed by the RBI governor. We expect them to take charge and decided which regulator will handle these scams and ensure action.
We cannot make out a case in every single article. We are grateful to Mr Mohan for posting the link below this comment which you may like to see.
Replied to prakash nandedkar comment 1 decade ago
Ponzi Scheme: Is RBI Passing the Buck?
Sucheta Dalal
Replied to MOHAN comment 1 decade ago
Many thanks for posting this link .
prakash nandedkar
1 decade ago
what is role of rbi? On what count rbi has not acted? Pl clearify
Replied to prakash nandedkar comment 1 decade ago
Ponzi Scheme: Is RBI Passing the Buck?
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