NSE scandal: Former MD Chitra Ramkrishna arrested
CBI on Sunday arrested Chitra Ramkrishna, former CEO and MD of National Stock Exchange (NSE), in a 2018 case of bourse manipulation. This is the second high-profile arrest in the case, with the agency last month arresting Anand Subramanian, NSE’s former group operating officer and Ramkrishna’s deputy and confidante.
“Ramkrishna has been arrested following questioning and will be produced in a competent court on Monday,” a CBI official said. Ramkrishna had earlier been questioned by the agency last month along with Subramanain and former NSE CEO Ravi Narain.
The CBI action comes in the wake of allegations against Ramkrishna that she was sharing confidential information of the bourse with a “Himalayan Yogi” and had got Subramanian appointed in violation of rules.
A SEBI order of February 11 has levied a fine of Rs 3 crore on Ramkrishna for violating rules in his appointment.
According to SEBI, several key decisions taken by Ramkrishna during her tenure as NSE’s MD and CEO from 2013 to 2016, including Subramanian’s appointment, were guided by an unidentified “paramahansa who may be largely dwelling in the Himalayan Ranges”.
An Ernst and Young audit report has indicated that the Yogi may be none other than Subramanian himself. Investigating agencies, however, have not yet reached any conclusion with regard to the Yogi’s real identity.
The CBI’s case pertains to charges of some brokers being given preferential access to the NSE’s trading system in the form of a co-location facility through which they bought “rack space” for their servers. According to the agency, these traders obtained faster access to the Exchange’s data feed — even a split-second advantage can lead to huge gains.
Last month, a CBI team visited the SEBI office in Mumbai and collected documents related to the case in which it has already booked Sanjay Gupta, the owner and promoter of Delhi-based OPG Securities Pvt Ltd, and others.
According to the CBI, between 2010 and 2014, Gupta allegedly “abused” the NSE server architecture in a criminal conspiracy with “unknown officials” from the Exchange.
“Gupta, with the help of his brother-in-law Aman Kokrady and other unknown persons, managed the data centre staff of NSE, who passed the information regarding switching on time of NSE exchange servers. Further, unknown officials of NSE gave OPG Securities Pvt Ltd access to servers which were technologically latest and least crowded at that particular period. This helped OPG Securities Pvt Ltd. in being mostly the first one to login on the exchange server of the NSE,” the CBI’s FIR said.
The allegations of unfair access were first made in January 2015 by a whistleblower who wrote to SEBI. A SEBI technical advisory committee report found that OPG Securities had consistently logged in first on selected servers on most trading days in 2010-2014, and had access to servers with better hardware. Gupta is also alleged to have bribed SEBI officials to obtain a favourable assessment.