Brokers who have an inglorious record of dealing with stock investors are demanding money from, and action against, NSEL. However, it is not only the Exchange that is to blame, but brokers who have mis-sold the NSEL product to investors. They too are liable for legal acton by their clients
Several brokers and their associations are asking the government to take action against National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL), which they claim has the financial obligation for paying back to them. However, the fact is that it was brokers, who lured investors in the first place to get risk-free gains from NSEL. Thus, it is investors who should first take action against brokers for giving them the contract note of NSEL. Contract note is certainly a legal document in an exchange that was sanctioned to run by a ministry, in this case, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
Commodity Participants Association of India along with Association of National Exchanges Members of India and BSE Brokers Forum has also threatened that they will move court if commodities market regulator Forward Market Commission (FMC) cannot give guarantee on repayment. While that may be a valid course of action, the investors have valid grounds for suing their broker for defaulting on their obligation.
The reason is simple. Investors were offered the NSEL product with promises of high fixed returns by the brokerages. Investors primarily gave money to brokers for investment. Therefore, in the first place, it was the brokers' duty to check and verify what they were selling, which they failed in the NSEL case. Crying foul about the functioning of the Exchange is valid but can the brokers escape their role in this?
These brokers, pretending as if they do not know anything about NSEL operations, are now expressing concerns over quantity and quality of commodities lying in warehouses controlled by NSEL. Brokers are claiming it was NSEL’s responsibility to verify stocks. Brokers have even demanded that the government should take over Financial Technologies India Ltd (FT) the promoters of NSEL as well until the mess is cleaned up.
Kirit Somaiya-led Investors’ Grievances Forum (IGF) went further. IGF has filed a complaint with the economic offences wing (EoW) of the Mumbai Police against NSEL. The Forum while demanding police to file first information report (FIR), accused NSEL of cheating, fraud, forgery with the victims being 17,000 small farmers and investors. In all fairness, IGL should add brokers to the list of those who have sold a dubious product to investors.
Interestingly, a circular from NSEL says, “Giving / taking delivery of commodities in ‘demat mode’ should be directly to / from the ‘beneficiary accounts’ of the Clients except delivery of commodities to a recognised entity under the approved scheme of the Exchange.” Did the brokers ensure this, clients can ask.
The NSEL circular also says, “Member of the Exchange shall make the Client aware of…the precise nature of business to be conducted, the risk associated with business in trading in contracts permitted in the exchange for Spot Trading, including any limitations on that liability and the capacity in which the Member of the Exchange acts and the Client’s liability thereon.” Was this done by brokers? Most certainly not.
The NSEL circular also says, “The Exchange Member shall not furnish any false or misleading information or advice with a view to inducing the Client to do business in particular contract or contracts and which shall enable the Exchange Member to profit thereby.” Making presentations to clients, which gives the impression that NSEL contracts offer a high fixed return while the funds are secured against goods, is clearly a violation of members’ responsibilities, in the eyes of investors.
The brokers who are leading the charge do not exactly have a shining record of treating their customers fairly in the stock market. From forging Power of Attorney frauds to unauthorized trading, to illegal selling of shares, they have indulged in multiple misdemeanors. All of them have got away too, thanks to a grievance-handling system of the exchanges and the market regulator that is loaded against investors.
Inside story of the National Stock Exchange’s amazing success, leading to hubris, regulatory capture and algo scam