NSE’s role in clean chit to ex-CEO under lens - Times of India

NSE’s role in clean chit to ex-CEO under lens – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The government and Sebi are examining how former MD & CEO of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Chitra Ramakrishna was let off without any action or penalties and the curious decision of the country’s largest bourse to allow her laptop to be destroyed as e-waste when it contained crucial evidence, including the IP address of the mysterious guru advising the disgraced executive.
Besides, some of the appointments on the board and the links of key NSE functionaries, with some prominent government functionaries during the UPA regime, are under the lens.
While the Sebi order has dwelt into some of the issues, the role of the board and some key functionaries has been questioned as they allowed Ramakrishna to exit through a resignation in December 2016 and the board even accorded its appreciation. Last week’s order pointed to “grave irregularities and misconduct” by Ramakrishna in the appointment of Anand Subramanian as chief strategic adviser and his re-designation as group operating officer and adviser to MD without following due process.
Besides, in violation of Sebi guidelines, the board went to the extent of permitting “excess leave encashment” for Ramakrishna, citing her “sterling contribution” to NSE’s growth, without regulatory approval. She had cited personal reasons for resigning from the key post.
What has raised eyebrows is the failure of the board to record the irregularities in the name of “confidentiality and sensitive information” while submitting a report to Sebi, which came after reminders from the regulator. In fact, the NSE’s role in concealing information has also come under the lens as a matter brought before the chairman has not been recorded, including those related to Subramanian’s appointment and sharing of crucial information by him and Ramakrishna with unknown persons. While the issue was not discussed formally at the Sebi board meeting on Tuesday, there was some informal conversation around it, sources told TOI.
Given the nature of the allegations and the reputational damage to the NSE, a wider probe is being called for, especially one that covers a longer period. Sources indicated that the government may issue a response over the next few days. Sources said that a cleanup at the NSE has been initiated and a new management has been in place for a while, but the revelations point to irregularities that date back to 2013 and even prior to that with the findings against Ramakrishna tumbling out during the probe related to the co-location scam that was allowed by the management led by Ravi Narain, her predecessor.
At the same time, sources indicated that unlike in the case of Chanda Kochhar, where ICICI Bank asked for some of the benefits paid to her to be refunded, it may be difficult to make the same case with Ramakrishna as pecuniary gains have not been established and the Sebi order dwells into her failure to perform her duty properly.



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