Coming down heavily on an Indore-based proprietor of an unregistered investment advisory firm for cheating investors by making false promises of exponential returns, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has barred him from markets for four years. SEBI also asked Ashish Chourasiya, proprietor of two firms, Money Increase and Venture Revenue, to refund, within three months, Rs3.13 crore collected from investors.
In an ex-parte order issued last week
, Ashwani Bhatia, whole-time member (WTM) of SEBI also barred for two years, Shinal Jain, an employee of Mr Chourasiya and Money Increase.
According to the market regulator, Indore-based Ashish Chourasiya, through his proprietorship firms, Money Increase and Venture Revenue, was carrying out investment advisory activities without being registered as an investment adviser with SEBI.
Money Increase was offering advice relating to the share market to investors so that the investors can trade in the share markets and earn profits. Through its website, moneyincrease.com, the firm was offering tips relating to shares, bullion, futures and options.
Similarly, Venture Revenue was offering tips and recommendations relating to securities to clients and investors to invest, purchase, sell or deal in securities to earn profits.
After finding that six bank accounts, two in ICICI Bank and four in Axis Bank, were used by Mr Chourasiya for collecting money from investors, SEBI invoked a debit and credit freeze on these accounts. Ms Jain had three and Venture Revenue had one account in Axis Bank. Mr Chourasia and Money Increase have one account each in ICICI Bank.
According to SEBI investigation, some investors deposited money in the accounts of Ms Jain, who then transferred it to the accounts of Money Increase and Venture Revenue. However, Mr Bhatia, the WTM from SEBI, noted that in one of her bank accounts, there were entries from 2014, while Ms Jain started working for Mr Chourasiya in 2017. Since the amounts in her accounts were not very high or abnormal, SEBI decided not to include it to compute total money collected by Mr Chourasiya from investors.
As of 31 July 2020, the bank accounts of Money Increase and Venture Revenue had a balance of Rs1.86 crore and Rs63.53 lakh. Mr Chourasiya had a balance of Rs63 lakh in his bank account, taking the total of all accounts to Rs3.13 crore.
SEBI then asked Mr Chourasiya to refund, within three months, money received from investors or clients as fees or consideration or in any other form, in respect of its unregistered investment advisory activities. He is also barred from selling his assets, properties and holding of mutual funds, shares and securities held by him in demat and physical form except for refunding the money to investors or clients.
"The direction for refund, shall not act as a bar on the clients or investors to pursue any other legal remedy available to them under any other law, against Ashish Chourasiya, Money Increase and Venture Revenue for a refund of money or deficiency in service before any appropriate forum of competent jurisdiction," Mr Bhatia clarified in his order.