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SEBI Strides: Taming Malpractices, Empowering Investors

SEBI safeguards investors, takes stern action against malpractices. Rs 73 crore in fines imposed. 2457 complaints in May 2023. PR Sundar fined Rs 6.5 crore. Gunjan Verma fined Rs 1 lakh. Alchemist Infra Realty Ltd fined Rs 15 lakh. Karvy Stock Broking banned, fined Rs 21 crore. Insider trading punished with bans and fines. Telegram fraudsters fined Rs 5.8 crore. Norm violators face penalties. Zee CEO and others fined, banned. Rigi mandates certification. Misuse of licenses addressed. Timely measures introduced. Reporting rewards up to Rs 5 lakh. Enhanced oversight of influencers. Reduced reliance on influencers encouraged. SEBI’s actions promote market integrity and protect investors.

SEBI Strides: Taming Malpractices, Empowering Investors

In a resolute move to safeguard investors’ interests and maintain the integrity of the Indian financial markets, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has taken stern actions against various individuals and entities involved in malpractices. Over the past three months, imposed fines have amounted to a staggering Rs 73 crore. These punitive measures serve as a clear message that fraudulent activities will not be tolerated, bolstering investor confidence and ensuring a fair and transparent market environment.

During the month of May 2023, SEBI received a substantial influx of 2457 complaints, reflecting the gravity of the situation. Furthermore, a whopping 5610 cases were added to the pending list, underscoring the urgent need to address and resolve these issues promptly. Among the multiple charges filed by SEBI, one notable case involved PR Sundar, who was fined a substantial sum of Rs 6.5 crore, highlighting the severity of the violations committed.

In a bid to protect investors from unscrupulous practices, SEBI slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh on Gunjan Verma, a prominent fin-influencer, for offering unregistered investment advice. Additionally, SEBI demanded Verma refund all the fees charged to her clients since 2018, emphasizing the importance of operating within the regulatory framework and ensuring compliance with established guidelines.

SEBI Strides: Taming Malpractices, Empowering Investors

ALCHEMIST INFRA REALTY LIMITED, despite being fined Rs 1 crore by SEBI in February 2021, found themselves in hot water once again. This time, SEBI imposed a hefty fine of Rs 15 lakh on the directors of the company for collecting funds through an illegal investment scheme. Such repeat offenses demonstrate the need for stricter penalties and heightened vigilance to curb the recurrence of financial misconduct.

Unveiling SEBI’s Vigilance

In a landmark move, SEBI took decisive action against Karvy Stock Broking, imposing a seven-year ban and a staggering fine of Rs 21 crore for the misuse of client funds. This case serves as a stark reminder to financial institutions and intermediaries about the severe consequences of mishandling investor assets, thereby emphasizing the paramount importance of maintaining trust and integrity in the industry.

SEBI’s crackdown on non-genuine trading within illegal stock options resulted in fines amounting to Rs 77 lakh imposed on 16 entities. By penalizing those involved in fraudulent activities, SEBI aims to deter market manipulations and promote fair trading practices.

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Insider trading, a grave offense that undermines the credibility of the financial markets, led SEBI to block three individuals for three years and fine them Rs 90 lakh in connection with the activities surrounding ZEE. Additionally, SEBI demanded a refund of Rs 9.61 crore, representing the illicit profits earned through their unethical actions. The swift and decisive action taken against the perpetrators of insider trading sends a strong message that such misconduct will not be tolerated.

SEBI also targeted individuals spreading false tips about specific stocks on the popular messaging platform Telegram. A fine of Rs 5.8 crore was imposed, and a ban of three years was instituted against six individuals involved in this fraudulent activity. SEBI’s determination to combat misinformation and manipulation in the market reinforces the need for accurate and reliable information dissemination.

In its relentless pursuit of maintaining market integrity, SEBI imposed a fine of Rs 41 lakh on three firms for violating market norms at ALPS MOTOR FINANCE LTD. By penalizing those who breach regulations, SEBI aims to create a level playing field for all market participants and ensure fair practices prevail.

SEBI’s stringent measures also targeted entities failing to meet the minimum public shareholding requirement. PNB Finance & Industries, Camac Commercial Company, and others were penalized with a staggering fine of Rs 35.67 crore, accompanied by a ban until compliance is achieved. Such measures are pivotal in enhancing transparency and accountability within the financial ecosystem.

Implications, Reforms, and Countermeasures

The recent actions taken by SEBI against Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited’s CEO, Punit Goenka, and Subhash Chandra, resulted in a fine of Rs 50.7 lakh, and both individuals were banned from assuming any managerial positions until further notice. This move had broader implications, leading to the delay of the merger between ZEE and Sony and causing a 7% drop in ZEE’s share price. SEBI’s resolve to hold high-profile individuals accountable demonstrates its commitment to upholding market integrity irrespective of the players involved.

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The crackdown on malpractices has not only sent shockwaves through the industry but also prompted influencer platform Rigi to implement mandatory certification for fin-influencers. This initiative ensures that individuals providing financial advice and recommendations possess the necessary expertise and adhere to regulatory requirements, protecting investors from unreliable information and unscrupulous practices.

To curtail the misuse of licenses, fin-influencers have resorted to partnering with research analysts to rent licenses, adopting deceptive tactics such as using coded words like Tea, Chicken, or Fish to evade SEBI’s scrutiny. These maneuvers highlight the desperate attempts made by some influencers to circumvent regulations, necessitating more stringent measures to ensure compliance and maintain the sanctity of the financial markets.

SEBI’s Timely Measures

Recognizing the significance of timely information, SEBI has introduced several measures to curb malpractices and foster investor confidence. Mutual fund regulations have been issued for execution-only platforms like Paytm and Groww, streamlining the process and ensuring that investors’ interests are protected.

To incentivize the reporting of financial wrongdoings, SEBI has established a reward system, offering informants up to Rs 5 lakh for providing tips that aid in recovering fines from cunning culprits. This initiative encourages individuals to come forward and assist in bringing offenders to justice, creating a robust network of surveillance against malpractices.

SEBI has taken a proactive approach by sending show cause notices to investment firms suspected of fund mismanagement. This step emphasizes the regulator’s commitment to scrutinizing financial activities, ensuring accountability, and safeguarding investor interests.

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To enhance oversight, SEBI has intensified the monitoring of many prominent influencers and this close observation of activities is mainly aimed to ensure compliance with regulations, SEBI also aims to maintain market transparency and protect investors from sharing potentially misleading information through various forms of media.

Recognizing the impact of marketing campaigns on investor behavior, SEBI has urged brokers and funds to reduce their reliance on fin-influencers. This move seeks to mitigate potential conflicts of interest and reduce the risk of misinformation reaching investors, thereby safeguarding the integrity of the financial ecosystem.

SEBI’s stringent actions against malpractices send a resounding message to the financial industry and market participants. By imposing fines, bans, and demanding refunds, SEBI is determined to root out fraudulent activities and maintain a level playing field for all stakeholders. These measures not only protect investors but also fortify the Indian financial markets, ensuring transparency, integrity, and sustainable growth for years to come.

Written By

Ashish is a News Analyst and Author at Empire Weekly. He is a purpose-driven passionate researcher who has a vision developed and evolved over the years but he is not a bookworm. The way of working may be out of the box but his research methodologies push him to do so and all this for analysis only on which he presents his final say. He’s a lot into sketching and likes opening up to music but only to certain genres. He’s a 3rd-year mechanical engineering undergrad but surprisingly is totally into physics, he believes he has found his purpose in the field of nuclear sciences.

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