Big bull Ketan Parekh's shadow still looms large over Indian markets. Five-and-a half-years after he was banned from trading, the capital market regulator has discovered that he is still executing trades through front-entities.
While banning 26 entities from dealing in the securities market, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has asked the income tax department, the Enforcement Directorate, stock exchanges and depositories to investigate the matter further. The regulator has used pointers from income tax records, trading data, phone records and off-market transaction to establish a link involving a complex chain of transactions.
Meanwhile, Sebi has given the banned entities 15 days to respond.
In a 114-page report that was put up on the regulator's website late this evening, Sebi said preliminary investigations revealed that Parekh "has conveniently used the connected clients at will as his conduits to execute trades desired by him in the securities market".
Sebi stumbled on Parekh's presence in the stock markets when it was probing a case of synchronised trading by five entities -- Maruti Securities, Kundan Leasing and Finance, Chandra Financial Services, Jay Investrade and HSM Financial Services.
These entities were under scrutiny for executing synchronised deals in Cals Refineries, Confidence Petroleum, Bang Overseas, Temptation Foods and Shree Precoated Steels, now known as Ajmera Realty & Infra India, over 26 months, starting January 2007.
During the investigations, Sebi observed that many of the entities, which executed 255 synchronised deals during the period under investigation, were located at the same premises in Mumbai. In addition, two individuals -- Harsh Shirish Maniar and Jay Shirish Maniar -- were directors in three of the companies.
The permanent account number of these two individuals revealed that their father, Shirish Shantilal Maniar, had been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) along with Ketan Parekh and others, in the scam involving the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank.
Sebi depended on inputs received from the income tax department, which had investigated the source of funds for loan repayments to Madhavpura Bank by Parekh. The tax department observed that in August 2008, Rs 26.43 crore was paid by the KP Group of companies to Madhavpura Bank.
To do so, Parekh is said to have opted for multi-layered transactions through which the payment originated from group company KNP Securities and was routed through various entities.
Sebi said the fund flow chart, prepared by the income tax department, showed many of the connected clients named in the order appeared as conduits for the funds originating from the Parekh group company.
The five entities that were being probed for synchronised trading were found to have dealt among themselves and also transferred shares through off-market transactions, thereby creating unnatural market volumes.
What also raised suspicion was the fact that clients claimed to have received an interest-free loan, which was immediately 'on-lent' as an interest free loan to the other party. "This is highly strange and inexplicable," the report said. In addition, the parties did not have any return loan agreement.
From the trading data, it was observed that in the scrips of Cals and Bang, connected clients had substantial trading concentrations in August 2008, when the funds originating from a KP company were flowing to the connected clients.
The Sebi order also pointed to the possibility of the connected clients acting as conduits for layering and integration of money. Citing one case, Sebi said the tax department had observed that during August 2008, M R Share Brokers, which was at the sixth layer of payment, denied having made payments of Rs 50 lakh as claimed by Jay Investrade.
Further investigation is in progress but Sebi said there was a possibility of the money coming from an unknown source. "Thus, it appears that connected clients were using securities market transactions as a foil to cover up their other illegal activities including layering and integration of unaccounted money," the order said.
"It appears that connected clients were using securities market transactions as a foil to cover up their other illegal activities including layering and integration of unaccounted money," the order added.