Intelligence Bureau tracks active deals of Ketan Parekh; tells finance ministry. Why is SEBI inactive?
Ketan Parekh is trading in dozens of stocks, according monthly intelligence reports. Top ministry officials have been getting these reports regularly. But why are they sitting idly, and why is SEBI keeping mum?
Ketan Parekh has been banned from trading in securities from December 2003 till 2017, but by all accounts Mr Parekh has been very active in the market all these years.
Most amazingly, the government's own intelligence wing is regularly tracking his trades and sending the reports to senior-most government officials. These reports are drawn up every month and sent to SS Menon, national security advisor; TKA Nair, principal secretary to the prime minister; KM Chandrashekhar, cabinet secretary; GK Pillai, secretary, ministry of home affairs; and Ashok Chawla, secretary, finance ministry.
Strangely, there has been no regulatory action against Mr Parekh so far, even after his involvement has been widely reported by the media. This raises the question, why top officials of this country who have enormous powers to investigate and harass small businesses and even tax-payers who are senior citizens, are so benign about Mr Parekh's illegal trading even when they are being briefed every month about his enormous purchases and sales?
Another equally important question is whether the market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) knows about these activities? Moneylife asked SEBI whether it has been briefed about Mr Parekh's activities, but has not received any reply so far. It would be stunning indeed if all the top officials and the regulator maintain a don't-hear-evil-don't-see-evil attitude, even as they sermonise about what is ethical and moral on various issues in the securities market.
We learn from Intelligence Bureau sources that their monthly briefing reports routinely reach the regulators in some form. The intelligence reports a few months ago documented that "using various front entities" Mr Parekh was active in Orchid Chemicals, GMR Infrastructure, Cairn India, Deccan Chronicle, Reliance Industries, Punj Lloyd, India Bulls Real Estate, Pipavav Shipyard, MVL, Amtek Auto, Hindustan Oil Exploration Company, Camson Biotechnologies, Crew Bos Products, UCO Bank, East India Hotels, State Bank of India, OCL India, Kemrock Industries, Tatia Global Ventures and JSW Steel. Further, KP has apparently "sold his holdings in HPCL and BPCL" in August.
Interestingly, Mr Parekh was also supposedly active in SKS Microfinance, "having taken up the share price from Rs850 to around Rs1,100." The report also adds that "KP using his Kolkata-based associate, Ashok Poddar, held a big position (5-6 lakh shares) in Parsvanath Developers. The report also informs the top government officials that "associates of Mr Parekh, such as Dinesh Singhania and Raj Aggarwal, contemplated modalities for IPOs, wherein cartel members would secure 50% of IPO proceeds from promoters of unknown or fringe companies. In this context, the IPO of Aster Silicates was discussed." Apparently, Mr Parekh is using a Chennai-based broking firm, Shri Ram Insight Share Brokers for his trading.
According to the reports, associates of Mr Parekh were involved in manipulating the Microsec IPO, both in its pre- and post-listing stages. "The gameplan included pre-listing short selling at Rs36 in the grey market, multiple retail and HNI applications through proxies, benami demat accounts and instant selling of the allotment on the day of listing to keep the price below Rs34 levels. Anticipating panic-selling by regular shareholders, the cartel members proposed to mop up shares and subsequently orchestrate a sustained hike through circular trading. Further, the cartel was also involved in the IPO grey market relating to Eros International Media, VA Tech Wabag and Carrier Point Infosystems."
A few months ago, Mr Parekh also planned to buy 60 million shares of Amtek Auto, alternately on the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange. In June, the intelligence sleuths found Mr Parekh active on the counters of Dish TV, Piramal Healthcare, Pipavav Shipyard and Housing Development Finance Corporation.
Interestingly, Mr Parekh and his associates "were involved in market operations to raise funds in Temptation Foods. The plan included a cash transfer of Rs3.5 crore from one associate (DS) to another (GM) in return for which, GM was to issue a cheque worth one crore to Temptation Foods as application money for 14 lakh shares. While the normal preferential allotment of 14 lakh shares was to be at Rs36 per share, these were to be given at Rs30 per share to GM. Subsequently, KP and associates planned to hike up the shares of Temptation Foods, with the understanding that they would receive 50% of the profit. In the event of a loss, the promoter was expected to make good the losses by providing cash to GM through DS."
It may be recalled that Vinit Kumar, the present owner of Temptation Foods, was recently identified as being an ally of home ministry official Ravi Inder Singh, who was arrested for leaking out sensitive information to companies, and which also led to further revelations in the telecom scam. Vinit Kumar is said to have played a big role in the scandal. According to a report in the Mumbai Mirror, Mr Kumar was the go-between who would take information from Mr Singh to corporate houses, and in return give him cash and supply him with prostitutes. He is widely suspected to have strong links with Mr Parekh, the Mumbai Mirror report says.
When the Intelligence Bureau reports about Mr Parekh's activities are so detailed, the regulator's inability to check his market manipulation can only be deliberate. - Additional research by Sanket Dhanorkar