SEBI’s compromises and settlements in India vs the US SEC action

In India, laws and regulations are in place but implementation is abysmal. The enforcement machinery is extremely toothless. The miniscule penalties that are levied are not at all commensurate with the offence and ill gotten gains

One fails to comprehend the soft peddling attitude of the market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) that are adopting ‘kid gloved’ treatment to all kinds of insider trading and illegal activities so blatantly and overtly practiced by some of the big ticket operators here. On the other hand, the US authorities move toughly and succeed in nailing against the likes of SAC Capital that once reigned the hedge fund world (founder Steven A Cohen was listed by Forbes as being worth $8.8 billion), Rajat Gupta and Enron.
 

Earlier, Rajat Gupta, former director of Goldman Sachs was ordered by the court to pay a hefty $13.9 million fine along with a life time bar from associating with brokers, dealers and investment advisors, permanently enjoining him from future violations of the securities law and barring him from serving as director or officer of any public company.  This was triple the benefit hedge-fund manager Raj Rajratnam had obtained from the tips Gupta allegedly passed on to him. He is already facing a $5 million fine and a two year prison sentence in a parallel criminal insider trading case.

 

This comes at a time when both the Justice Department as well as the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US have been acting really harshly on all the insider trading violators. In the case of SAC Capital, it became the first hedge fund to plead guilty to insider trading after an extensive six-year long dragnet by the regulators who issued stern warnings and imposed fines that totalled $1.8 billion. The Guardian & AP report says, “SAC has agreed to a passel of penalties, which follow a July indictment that ordered a $900 million fine and forfeiture of another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that the SAC companies have agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the SEC… SAC also agreed to accept a 5-year probation period in which any employee seeking to start a new investing business would require government permission in addition to agree to shut down its advisory business that accepts money from outside investors”.
 

April Brooks, the head of the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is quoted as calling the insider trading at SAC “substantial, pervasive and on a scale without known precedent... nothing short of institutional failure... a work culture at SAC that permitted, if not encouraged insider trading.” The evidence against SAC was so overwhelming and voluminous that it included electronic and instant messages, and court-ordered wiretaps and consensual recordings. She has  gone on to indicate that US government regulators, including the Department of Justice, the FBI and the SEC plan to use SAC as a lesson to other fund managers, adding “How your employees make their money is just as important as how much they make.”  
 

The prosecutors’ case is that SAC earned hundreds of millions illegally from 1999 through 2010 when its portfolio managers and analysts traded on inside information from at least 20 known public companies. Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York said, “SAS trafficked in inside information on a scale without precedent in the history of hedge funds”.  Half of the about $15 billion in assets that SAC managed as of early this year is said to belong to Cohen and his employees and the rest clients’ money. The SEC, in a separate case, has sought to ban Cohen from the entire securities market for failure to prevent insider trading.
 

However, in India, the laws and regulations are in place, but implementation is abysmal. The enforcement machinery is extremely toothless. The miniscule penalties that are levied are not at all commensurate with the offence and ill gotten gains. The debarment mechanism is slow and ineffective. So far the biggest ticket Sensex biggies caught red handed have been dilly dallying to buy time when they ought to coughed up crores like the billions penalised by the US Regulators. It is time they bare their teeth a la SEC and US Justice Department.
 

(Nagesh Kini  is a Mumbai-based chartered accountant turned activist.)

Comments
sanjay
9 years ago
these are all crooks
sathyacumaran
9 years ago
sathyacumaran
singapore media and channel group
In US the Law is strict but in India the law is strict but there should courage by the authroities while implementing them because each business is attached to some political party and they put an pressure to the authority of sebi and stock exchanges and beyond if they try to do these political party uses goodas to threaten the officials even the Police power is silent spectator if some thing happens to senior officials of sebi or stock exchanges of india our Prime minister and Finance minsiter and congress chairperson would give an report that we strongly condemn this barberious attack of the officials of sebi and stock exchanges and they would give Rs 10 lakhs from PM relief fund and full state honours would be ordered for the funeral of that official that is situation apart from this the officials also not clean or straight forward they cojoin with political thugs and get their share and apart from this the officials of sebi and stock exchanges after their retirement they get lucartive position in big buisness house inorder for not implementing the law infact we could say law makers are law brakers is our surmise please let us know whether our judgment is true or not
sanjay
9 years ago
Dear Nagesh,

Nice article and I fully agree with your views. I have lot of information on these operators & their modus operandi .. can I help you in any way ? I want these regulatory bodies to wake up from their deep slumber and bring these white collar criminals to book .. please contact me on [email protected] .
nagesh kini
Replied to sanjay comment 9 years ago
Sure Sanjay! You can pass it all on to MoneyLife to caay as follow ups. Until and unless people like you join in with hardcore facts and figures the culprits get away.
It is only because of Dr. Subramanya Swami and his relentless pusuit right up to the Supreme Court that the 2G can of worms was opened. Now he promises tto do it with the Jet-Etihad deal. He too needs all support.
sanjay
Replied to nagesh kini comment 9 years ago
right nagesh ..
Vaibhav Dhoka
9 years ago
In India no where action is taken on law breakers may it be SEBI RBI IRDA or Indian Judiciary.Here there is NO FEAR of action.The action if at all taken is so much delayed that one looses faith in system itself.I recall SEBI chairman' letter to Maharashtra Chief secretary calling for no action from police EOW department in case of stock brokers complaint On one hand SEBI wants no action on Stock brokers and it wont act against broker community itself due to wasted interest.One can find arbitration procedure failure.I recall my complaint against Kotak Securities Ltd,since 2004.Kotak Securities says its SEBI to take action.Police directs complainant to approach SEBI. When SEBI is approached they don't act at all.And it is not possible to approach higher judiciary as it is TOO expensive.The cost of court approach comes to more than losses.And this is reason why most regulators don't ACT.In USA one sees action taken and culprits get DUE punishment.
sanjay
Replied to Vaibhav Dhoka comment 9 years ago
Hi vaibhav, can you share details about kotak sec problem . I would like to help if any thing can be done .
Vaibhav Dhoka
Replied to sanjay comment 9 years ago
Pl.give your e.mail for detailed problem sharing.Thanks
sanjay
Replied to Vaibhav Dhoka comment 9 years ago
Vaibhav Dhoka
Replied to sanjay comment 9 years ago
Pl.give your e.mail for detailed problem sharing.Thanks
sanjay
Replied to Vaibhav Dhoka comment 9 years ago
sanjay
Replied to Vaibhav Dhoka comment 9 years ago
I have seen your mail . will revert tomorrow morning .
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