Friday, January 4, 2013

SEBI rejects 149 consent pleas; 16 from RIL group

MUMBAI, January 4, 2013 PTI

Market regulator SEBI has rejected as many as 149 consent applications, finding them unsuitable for settlement through payment of charges, including 16 from various entities related to Reliance Industries group.

These include applications of Reliance Industries Ltd itself, as also various group companies and that of RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani's close aide Manoj Modi.

The other applications include those from brokerage firms India Infoline and HSBC Investdirect Securities and from entities in a case involving Bank of Rajasthan.

Under SEBI's consent mechanism, companies can seek to settle cases with the market regulator after payment of certain charges and disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains.

However, in May 2012 SEBI tightened the regulations for settlement through consent framework. Following that, many cases including some of those related to insider trading, can't be settled through this mechanism.

In a status report, SEBI has said that 149 consent applications have been rejected as they are not found to be in consonance with the revised guidelines and the proceedings in these cases will continue in accordance with law.

These include 13 applications from various entities in a case involving alleged violation of SEBI regulations for 'Prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trade practices' in a matter of RIL's erstwhile subsidiary Reliance Petroleum Ltd.

Besides, there are three applications related to alleged violation of 'Prohibition of Insider Trading Regulations' in the matter of another erstwhile RIL group company -- Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd (IPCL) -- which used to be a government-owned company and was later acquired by Mukesh Ambani-led group as part of a disinvestment exercise.

Both the companies, Reliance Petroleum and IPCL, used to be separately listed entities, but were later acquired by RIL and got delisted from the stock exchanges.

In the IPCL case, SEBI has rejected consent pleas of Reliance Petroinvestments Ltd, Alaska Mercantile Co Pvt Ltd, as also one from Manoj Modi and Smita Modi.

Manoj Modi is considered a close aide of Mukesh Ambani and also serves on key positions in some of the RIL companies.

In the RPL matter, SEBI has rejected consent pleas of Reliance Industries Ltd itself, as also that of Reliance ports & Terminals Ltd, LPG Infrastructure (India) Ltd and Vinamra Universal Traders.

The other applicants in this matter were Gujarat Petcoke and Petroproducts Supply, Relogistics (Rajasthan) Pvt Ltd, Relogistics (India) Pvt Ltd, Relpol Plastic Products, Darshan Securities, Fine Tech Commercials, Dharti Investment & Holdings, Aarthik Commercials and Mo Tech Software.

RIL has approached Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) against SEBI and its application was earlier scheduled to be heard today for admission by the SAT. However, the Tribunal has deferred the matter to January 11 for hearing.

RIL had earlier also sought to settle the matter through consent mechanism at least twice, but the proposals were rejected by SEBI terming the proposed charges as too less. As per SEBI's preliminary investigations, RIL is said to have gained nearly Rs 4,500 crore through sale of shares in RPL, pegging the total charges for consent settlement at nearly three-times of this amount as per earlier consent regulations.

RIL's appeal before SAT follows fresh show-cause notices issued by SEBI to the corporate giant with regard to the alleged irregularities in its share dealings, sources said.

In the past also, SEBI has issued show-cause notices to RIL in cases involving sale of shares of RPL and allotment of shares to certain firms against warrants linked to privately placed debentures issued by RIL.

In the case involving sale of shares of RPL, SEBI is said to have been investigating for a long time the alleged violation of insider trading regulations by RIL.
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