Over Rs1,000 Crore at Risk at Anugrah Stockbrokers and Associates?
Even as the regulator has tightened the rules to prevent misuse of investors’ funds and shares, yet another brokerage firm—Anugrah Stock & Broking Pvt Ltd—seems to be teetering on the brink, despite a reprieve from the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on 17th August against action by the National Stock Exchange (NSE).
 
The action by NSE and SAT has panicked the clients of Anugrah and its associates who claim to ‘manage’ well over Rs1,000 crore. The clients have drawn a blank in reaching associates who channelled their investments. Worried investors have been flocking to the Vile Parle office (in Mumbai) of Anugrah and sending emails and letters demanding answers. Almost everyone has hit a wall. Importantly, reliable sources say, Anugrah’s “trading on the exchange  is not so high to warrant the kind of loss in his formal book.” So what is going on?
 
Until a couple of days ago, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) seemed to be unaware of what is going on, although a simple search shows that both Anugrah and one of its associates, Teji Mandi Analytics Pvt Limited, ought to have been on the regulator’s radar since they have both been fined in the past. 
 
NSE began to investigate various brokers following the post-COVID turmoil in the market and especially after the sudden and voluntary closure of India Nivesh.
 
The Exchange 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 firm asked for more time. So NSE shut down Anugrah’s trading rights in all derivatives segments (futures, options, commodities and currency) from 3rd August. 
 
The brokerage firm rushed to SAT and won a reprieve of sorts. SAT decided, in its wisdom, that there was no tearing hurry for NSE’s ex-parte action after giving just 10 days. So, it ordered trading rights to be restored immediately. NSE had to fall in line and restart Anugrah’s trading on 17th August.
 
But the Tribunal also imposed two conditions on Anugrah. It asked the firm to deposit Rs165 crore with the NSE within two weeks, while granting three weeks to file a response. The next hearing has been posted for 14th October and Anugrah cannot enrol any fresh clients in the derivatives segment until then nor can it continue DAS through OSSI. (Misc. Appln No244 of 2020- Urgent Application, Anugrah Stock & Broking Ltd vs NSE)
 
A Google search however, reveals that Anugrah had been fined Rs5 lakh on 20 March 2019, for failing to settle client accounts, especially those of inactive clients. This pertained to an inspection in April 2017. This is exactly the issue that is being fixed from September by SEBI’s new rules. Did SEBI not find any links to unauthorised derivatives advisory being run by associates such as Teji Mandi and Om Shri Sai at that time?
 
It is important to note that there were no investor complaints then. This shows that when the going is good, investors are happy to provide a blanket power of attorney (POA) to brokers and their associates without too much checking.
 
 
Teji Mandi Analytics and the Rs1,000 Crore Question
In response to a tweet of mine on this issue, several investors have sent me documents, POAs, presentations and contracts which reveal that the biggest associate of Anugrah was Teji Mandi Analytics Pvt Ltd. Most advisory accounts were opened by Teji Mandi, whose link with Anugrah comes up in a simple Google search. Worryingly, this firm too has gone incommunicado and investors attempting to check on their funds have got no response. 
 
Teji Mandi’s latest marketing presentation to investors claims to have Rs800 crore under the service. Here are screen shots that show that it has earned annualised returns of over 19%. Is it any wonder that investors had no complaints? The latest balance sheet and audit report for 31 March 2020, shared by an investor, also show no cause for concern. 
 
Between Teji Mandi and Om Shri Sai Investments as well as Anugrah’s direct clients and fund raising, the firm clearly had operations of over Rs1,000 crore. 
 
 
 
Past Punishments
While SEBI claims to have highly sophisticated software that offers real-time tracking, much of what I found out about Anugrah was through a most basic Google search and a question posed on twitter. On 25 May 2009, SEBI had barred Anugrah from buying and selling securities.  
 
While these fines are nothing more than a slap on the wrist, SEBI apparently does not bother to flag such entities or monitor their activities and compliance, despite spending on highly sophisticated systems that allegedly provide real-time trading information. Surely, a powerful and hugely funded regulator ought to be able to do a lot more than what an open Google search provides?
 
Rating Warning
Anugrah has been taking short-term loans for its operation as well as bank guarantees and an overdraft. Here, too, its record has been patchy. In December 2017, CRISIL reported that the issuer was ‘not cooperating’ with the rating agency, despite consistent follow-up and had, hence, ‘migrated’ the rating. The agency warned investors, lenders and all other, which included a bank guarantee of Rs14 crore and an overdraft facility of Rs11 crore.
 
 
Anugrah had obtained a rating from ICRA to raise Rs13 crore in short-term fund-based bank lines. All this is relevant in the context of the court case/arbitration involving India Nivesh’s Rs100 crore ‘funded’ fixed deposit. Is this another case of raising funds by pledging a borrowing as margin/bank guarantee? I have emailed Anugrah as well as Teji Mandi for answers and will post their response, if any, when I get them. 
 
Here is some feedback from investors, whose names have been changed. Arvind Sinha thinks Teji Mandi is a sub-broker of Anugrah and is “running some algo based trading in F&O segment (only options of Nifty and Bank Nifty) across all clients.” He says, “We are not asking for losses to be repaid, but what about the balance that is with the firm? It looks like the broker has gone insolvent,” since his many emails and calls have not elicited any response.
 
This investor had demanded a closure of his trading account and alleges that he has “identified fake contract notes that raise concerns about fraud, misrepresentation and unauthorised trading” by Teji Mandi and/or Anugrah. This investor says that even after NSE restored trading, he was not allowed to trade even in the cash segment by Anugrah and Teji Mandi. He alleges that shares have not been transferred back from the pool account in contravention of SEBI rules (SEBI/HO/MIRSD/DOP/CIR/P/2020/28 dated 25 February 2020) and a request to unpledge shares and return them to his depository account has been ignored. 
 
Another investor, using a pseudonym, says that a group of investors has collectively invested over Rs19 crore through the associate of Anugrah (who he does not name but is in all probability it is Teji Mandi Analytics). Some of them have found stocks missing from their demat accounts, which have probably been used for margin payments and not credited back. Their follow-up to have their accounts closed and funds/shares transferred has also drawn a blank. This group included an investor who put in Rs1.55 crore along with his wife as recently as in March 2020 through Teji Mandi Analytics.  
 
The big question now is whether Anugrah is able to cough up Rs165 crore in the next five days, as SAT has ordered. But investors are panicking; NSE is watching developments closely and the regulator remains silent.  
 

(Updated and corrected on 28 August 2020.)

 

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    COMMENTS

    krunalshah3

    6 months ago

    I have complaint anugarh stock exchange pvt Ltd but no ans me nse Or sebi ab kya kr skte he koi help kr skta he 1 month ho gya ply nhi de rha he

    krunalshah3

    6 months ago

    Mera anugrah stock exchange pvt Ltd me ply fasa huva he kya ho skta he 15 day se ply nhi aarha ans koi nhi de rha na sebi na anughr

    wjesudas123

    6 months ago

    Foolish people loose money all the time. They are cheated by their family and other people. Sophisticated people are cheated by sophisticated brokers and conman. It is very important to handle all money affairs by oneself. Trusting others even family members will result in grief. Do not even believe own father
    others in money matters always mother siblings husband son daughters or wife. Handle only yourselves. If you do not know learn and do it. It is better to lose one's money by self than to lose through others. One who believes others to handle money always come to grief. This is due to the fact that nobody reveals or talks about losses. Any small gain they will brag about it. Handle your money and be safe.

    REPLY

    pbsamantray

    In Reply to wjesudas123 6 months ago

    The best thoughts you expressed. I am of the same feathers !!! Don't let any body touch or control your money . Loss or gain I am responsible for my actions. No regrets...
    Regards.

    suketu

    In Reply to wjesudas123 6 months ago

    Another issue is that many people try jor jabardasti style to rob yr invesment money even if you are not gullible.For instance,unsolictedly you wl be approached by yr bank for PMS.I am firmly of the opinion that such people shd be chained and tied to tree opp dalal street and thrashed on and on in full view of the public as they are jor jabardasti style trying to rob money .Only when there are such instances will people stop doing jorjabardasti akak robbing money in name of "PMS" which is the worst word in the investment dictionary.

    suketu

    In Reply to wjesudas123 6 months ago

    I love yr post/.Super stuff

    I would like to inform readers of another broker who tried to cheat me in 2013.One Sandip Raichura ,after doing 5 sale transactions and 2 purchase transactions in 2013 (my account of demat was with bank) he tells me "now onwards we wl only do yr brokerage provided you transfer yr DP to our company account.".I told him to get lost and stopped dealings with him and closed my account.His company doesnot have that rule.He made it up himself.Throw away such people from yr life who are nothing but goondas without wasting a single minute in the language and way they deserve and understand.Nothing less.

    mr.singhvi

    6 months ago

    This is nothing new, one more Brokerage house joins the elites like Karvy, India nivesh and many more, SEBI, NATIONAL STOCK EXCHANGE all are helpless, or they don't want to act, they usually act only after damage has been done, and than there is no chance of recoveries of client money or anything, investor has to just file the complain to SEBI, NSDL AND OTHER and just watch in despair. Take the case of Karvy, since Nov. 2019 money and shares have not been repaid to investor, and looks like they have no intention or will to settle the dues, COME WHAT SEBI,NSDL DO TO THEM, it is high time, Brokerage houses should be removed from the stock exchange,

    xxxxxx

    6 months ago

    good alert

    kd.paranjpe

    6 months ago

    Mam, You have mentioned that SEBI should have red flagged the broking activities of such brokers. There are rogue brokers in the community of brokers. These Brokers sell their service for a fee and begin to defraud the investors. These brokers seem to believe in smart marketing and sharp sales activities. The Investors have no means of knowing whether they are dealing with a firm of crooks or genuine brokers. There is a need here for the retail investor to have information about the firm with who they deal.
    Ideally, it is the SEBI which should be doing a broker profile for each broker and sub brokers. A track record sheet must be made available online in which misdemeanors of brokers be highlighted just as much as good work done beyond the normal business activity.
    The Election Commission has done it for the Election Candidates.
    Just Dial has a rating system for all vendors based on the feedback that they get from the consumers
    Why cannot investors be provided with such broker rating services by other market operators and by your own foundation as well.

    suketu

    6 months ago

    Wonderful awareness of goonda brokers by moneylife on and on.Pl choose stock broker carefully.

    Meenal Mamdani

    6 months ago

    My cousin is a broker and he tells me that most investors are clueless about even the basics of investing. They do not research a company that promises unbelievable returns and never wonder how the company can make these returns. All they see are the mega returns promised. He has had to persuade, at times insist that he will not invest in a particular company because he thinks the company is not likely to deliver on its promises.

    May be these investors need to pass an exam given by ML Foundation before they are allowed to risk their own and their associates' money. I am kidding of course. There is no way to stop a person from behaving foolishly.

    bullseye.mktg

    6 months ago

    The broker is an anachronistic concept, they should be eleminated.

    [email protected]

    6 months ago

    Great Story......Why not all such happenings come before
    the Damage has been done ???? However thank you. A platform should be developed to educate the Investors.
    In Mean While Do a story of Facts on ZRODHA ..

    REPLY

    kvrao42004

    In Reply to [email protected] 6 months ago

    Why ZRODHA ? Did you mean ZERODHA? Any news or damaging facts?

    [email protected]

    In Reply to kvrao42004 6 months ago

    Their growth with less charges raised something, Therefore what is the harm to check their credential.??? When KARVY, ANUGRAH ARE EXAMPLE. REQUESTING MONEYLIFE TO DO A STORY ON THEM....

    sk.raman

    6 months ago

    \\This group included an investor who put in Rs1.55 crore along with his wife\\ .... reminds me of a joke, where a gentleman, while signing a joint contract/agreement, killed his wife, since the lawyer said "execute this contract along with your wife"

    pramodvishwakarma1

    6 months ago

    what is role for SEBI ??? enjoy fee only ??? Currently SEBI Charges are levied at Rs. 20 per Crore 0.0002% on the value of the Transaction. Unlike STT , the rates of which which vary for Intra Day Trades & positional trades, SEBI charges remain constant. The SEBI Turnover fees on the NSE and the SEBI turnover fees on the BSE are the same

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