AuthorUmakanth Varottil

Front Running and Circumstantial Evidence (Matrimonial Websites Including)

Securities frauds such as insider trading and front running raise insurmountable hurdles for regulators because there is often no evidence, not even a smoking gun. Hence, regulators bear the burden of painstakingly piecing together several bits of circumstantial evidence that, as a whole, might be sufficient to convince a court or tribunal of the elements of a breach of the appropriate...

SEBI’s Karvy Order: Tightening the Screws on Stock Brokers

Late on Friday, 22 November 2019, the Securities and Exchange Board of India passed an order in the case involving Karvy Stock Broking Limited (KSBL). The circumstances surrounding the order are atypical. The urgency of the situation is evident in the fact that the SEBI order, passed very late on 22 November, relies upon a “preliminary” report that it received from the National Stock Exchange of...

Disclosure of Loan Defaults by Listed Entities

Readers may recall the controversy surrounding a circular that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued in August 2017 to all listed companies requiring them to make a public disclosure to the stock exchanges within one working day of defaulting on loans and other financial facilities. In a blog post then, I had discussed the rationale for SEBI’s move. However, the circular came...

SAT Rules on “Materiality” of Disclosures

A somewhat peculiar fact situation arose for consideration of the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) in Electrosteels Limited v. Securities and Exchange Board of India (order dated 14 November 2019). Electrosteel Limited (ESL) embarked upon an initial public offering (IPO) in 2010. ESL’s parent is Electrosteel Castings Limited (ECL), a public listed company. Since iron ore is an essential raw...

Scope of Appeals against SEBI’s Disposal of Investor Complaints

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has established the “SEBI Complaints Redress System” (SCORES) for receiving investor complaints in respect of listed companies, collective investment schemes and other SEBI-regulated entities. The question of whether an appeal lies from SEBI’s disposal of an investor complaint through SCORES came up for consideration before the Securities...

The Foibles of a Databank and Proficiency Test for Independent Directors

There is no gainsaying that board independence has come to assume a pivotal position in corporate governance. Although it continues to receive constant criticism on account its ineffectiveness, no one musters the courage to banish it or even diminish its importance. While the concept of independent directors only gradually received the required attention and seriousness in India, it has been the...

Takeover Offer Price and the Valuation Conundrum

Generally, in a takeover or other form of transaction involving mergers and acquisitions (M&A), there could be broadly two types of disputes. The first type arises if the companies involved have failed to comply with the requisite procedures for undertaking the transaction, which ultimately adversely affects the interests of the shareholders. This would give rise to a cause for the...

Delhi High Court Rules on Disqualification of Directors

In order to address the scores of shell companies in existence, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) introduced a range of measures in the wake of the 2017 demonetization exercise. One of them pertains to the disqualification of directors in companies that have failed to file financial statements or annual returns for a continuous period of three financial years, as prescribed under section...

Promoter Cannot Initiate Restructuring Scheme for Insolvent Company

In an earlier post, I had noted the revival of the scheme of arrangement as a restructuring tool for companies that have been taken into liquidation under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC). In the cases discussed therein, the adjudicatory authorities sought to encourage the parties to use the scheme to attempt a revival of the company before certifying its demise. Among the leading...

SEBI’s Informal Guidance Affirms Expansive Nature of Insider Trading Code of Conduct

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (the “PIT Regulations”) have undergone refinement since their enactment. Earlier this year, SEBI introduced changes by way of the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 that came into effect on 1 April 2019. The amendments to the PIT Regulations clarify that the...

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