Photo of Shruti Rajan

Partner in the Financial Regulation Practice at the Mumbai office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Shruti's expertise in financial regulation spans across market entry/innovation, ongoing compliance issues, transactional advisory as well as internal investigations and regulatory representations, with a special emphasis on regulatory issues in relation to RBI and SEBI regulated intermediaries. She can be reached at shruti.rajan@cyrilshroff.com.

Insider Trading Hotline SEBI - Informant Mechanism

In our previous blog post, dated June 12, 2019, we discussed the Securities Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) efforts to institutionalise an informant mechanism for insider trading, through its discussion paper released in June 2019 (Discussion Paper).

The regulator has now formalised this into law through a recent amendment to the Insider Trading Regulations, which came after a SEBI board meeting approved the informant mechanism scheme on August 21 of last month. Interestingly, while the publicly available agenda of the SEBI board meeting states that it had received comments from certain entities on the Discussion Paper, these comments are not publicly available and are stated to have been excised for reasons of confidentiality.
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 Securities Law Enforcement - Calibrating the Discipline of Penalty Imposition

Equipped with broad statutory powers, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been hard at work for the past 30 years, shouldering the herculean task of managing the Indian securities market, through both regulation and enforcement. Naturally, to help SEBI respond to and deal with evolving challenges, its powers, specifically those under the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (SCRA) and the SEBI Act, 1992 (SEBI Act), have been continuously at play, allowing it to mete out a wide range of penalties, both monetary and substantive. SEBI’s exercise of such powers, in its capacity as a quasi-judicial authority, has increasingly become a subject-matter of appellate interest, on questions of both jurisdictional remit and proportionality of penal action.
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Superior Orders Defence - Corporate Fraud

The past few years have seen a marked increase in regulatory investigations and enforcement action into fraud. This increased scrutiny brings into focus the liability of the individuals involved in the fraud and the extent to which such individuals are liable.

Typically, when the company has committed fraud, persons who are responsible for the actions of the company – the ‘directing mind and will– are held liable. In contrast, where a fraud is committed on the company and/or its shareholders, it involves identifying both, the officers at whose behest, or for whose benefit, such actions were undertaken, as well as persons who executed the fraud. 
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SEBI’s Latest Discussion Paper on Insider Trading Regulations

Prosecuting insider trading cases has always been a challenge for the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Primary evidence is difficult to come by, which impacts success rates as well as investigation timelines.

On June 10, 2019, SEBI released a discussion paper (Discussion Paper) proposing amendments to the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (Insider Trading Regulations) to establish systems and processes (both within listed companies, as well as, at SEBI) that incentivise individuals to report insider trading violations, if they come to their knowledge. In terms of the Discussion Paper, the informant may be rewarded up to INR 1 crore (approx. USD 150,000) if SEBI undertakes disgorgement of at least INR 5 crores (approx. USD 0.72 million) as a result of any action taken on the basis of true, credible and original information.
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RBI’s Fintech Sandbox Proposal Startups

Technological innovation in the financial space, popularly known as ‘fintech’, has been at the forefront of regulatory thinking in recent times and is widely considered to be the panacea to the thorny issues of financial inclusion and ease of access to financial products/solutions, etc.

In 2018, the inter-regulatory Working Group (WG) set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to review the granular aspects of fintech and its implications, released a report being the ‘Report of the Working Group on FinTech and Digital banking’. One of the WG’s key recommendations was the introduction of an appropriate framework for the creation of a regulatory sandbox (RS) where the RBI could provide the requisite regulatory guidance to test products in a controlled environment.
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Prohibition of Insider Trading Regulations 2015 in India , Amendments

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) ended the year with a bang by issuing a number of notifications on December 31, including the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) (Amendment) Regulations, 2018 (PIT Amendment Regulations). The PIT Amendment Regulations come into force on April 1, 2019 and will have significant impact on the manner in which listed companies and intermediaries navigate the market conduct framework.
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Reserve bank of India - RBI vs Indian Government

At the heart of any modern democracy lies the doctrine of separation of powers, which ensures division of responsibilities and also structurally validates a key principle of governance, i.e., allowing each institution to function autonomously, while still maintaining accountability within the larger legislative framework. In codifying its own unique (and somewhat limited) interpretation of this doctrine, the Constitution of India delineates functions of the Union and the states, allowing Parliament to legislate on the functions of key agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Reserve Bank of India (Entry 38, Seventh Schedule).
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On August 10, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) published a report (Report) of the High Level Committee under the Chairmanship of Justice A. R. Dave (Retd.) (Committee). The Report has made recommendations to revamp the SEBI (Settlement of Administrative and Civil Proceedings) Regulations, 2014 (Regulations).

As and when amended, this will mark the fourth avatar of the consent process, first introduced by SEBI through a circular way back in 2007 (remodelled substantially in 2012) and then reincarnated as delegated legislation in 2014. The Report has taken into account SEBI’s experience with this mechanism in the past few years as well as evolving market trends.


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Last month, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) passed an order in favour of Factorial Master Fund[1] (Factorial). This overturned the order of the SEBI Whole Time Member who had held that Factorial had contravened the provisions of the SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (PIT Regulations) by trading in the securities of L&T Finance Holdings Limited (LTFH), while in possession of unpublished price sensitive information (UPSI).

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Technological innovation is the new normal in the financial services sector. The evolution of every aspect of this industry in the past few years has been truly transformational, whether it is access to funds, demand creation/aggregation or even payment systems. The inception and growth of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms in India is one such example. P2P platforms effectively function as an online marketplace for lenders and borrowers, for a commission. A need for regulatory oversight was considered by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), given the recent rise in the number of such operators and their integration into the financial services sector.

The RBI outlined its proposal to regulate such platforms in its consultation paper issued last year. Following notification on August 24, 2017 categorising P2P lending platforms as Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), the RBI has finally issued its widely anticipated master directions on October 04, 2017 (Master Directions).


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