Insider Trading Regime

Introduction

Across jurisdictions, the mischief of insider trading is sought to be curbed and punished by the market regulators since any securities market of repute would measure its success, among other variables, based on the integrity and fairness of transactions conducted on its platform. As such, the prohibition of insider trading stems from the moral imperative, which demands that there is no information asymmetry between insiders and other shareholders while dealing in listed securities. This effectively translates into restraint being exercised by insiders i.e. the persons who have access to the unpublished price sensitive information in relation to the listed securities in which they deal.

Continue Reading Winds of Change – The Recent Judicial and Legislative Developments in Insider Trading Regime

FIG Paper

Background:

A Working Group on Digital Lending (“RBI WG”), constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”), had published its Report in November 2021. It had made recommendations on (i) the legal and regulatory framework for digital lending; (ii) technology; and (iii) financial consumer protection, implementable over the near-term (up to one year) and medium-term (beyond one year).

Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 16 – Series 1) – Impact Analysis of RBI’s Recommendations of the Working Group on Digital Lending – Implementation

Payment System Operators New M&A Implications

Background:

On July 4, 2022, the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) clarified to all banks and non-bank payment system operators (“PSOs”) that its prior approval would be required for any (a) takeover/ acquisition of control, which may or may not result in change of management; and (b) sale/ transfer of payment activity to an entity not authorised for undertaking similar activity (“Circular”).

Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 15 – Series 1) – Payment System Operators (PSOs) – New M&A Implications

FIG PAPER (NO. 14) – RBI’s Vision for Payment Systems till 2025

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has published the latest of the payments vision documents titled ‘Payments Vision 2025’ with a view to build on the recent success in the digital payments space in India and the successful implementation of Payments Vision 2021. We will discuss the key developments in payments which the RBI envisages till 2025.

The RBI in its Payments Vision 2025 has set out a core theme on its vision on payments. The theme is E-payments for everyone, everywhere, everytime (4 Es). The vision set forth by the RBI in Payments Solution 2025 is to provide every user with six attributes with respect to E-payments. These are Safe, Secure, Fast, Convenient, Accessible and Affordable E-payment options. The RBI has published Payments Vision 2025 across five anchor goalposts of Integrity, Inclusion, Innovation, Institutionalisation and Internationalisation, with specific directions for each of the goalposts.
Continue Reading FIG PAPER (NO. 14) – RBI’s Vision for Payment Systems till 2025

SEBI

Background

In order to provide for an alternative and efficient dispute resolution mechanism for securities law violations, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) introduced the consent mechanism through a circular in 2007[1] (which was partially modified in 2012)[2]. This was subsequently codified through the SEBI (Settlement of Administrative and Civil Proceedings) Regulations, 2014 (“2014 Regulations”), pursuant to the notification of the Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014, which expressly empowered SEBI to settle matters with a view to removing any ambiguity over the validity of the settlement process. This regime specifically excluded certain serious violations (e.g. insider trading, fraud) from the purview of the settlement mechanism. Explicit provisions which enabled initiation of settlement proceedings prior to the issuance of show cause notice were also introduced, to reduce administrative burden and cost on SEBI.

Continue Reading Amendments to SEBI Settlement Regime – A Snapshot

Fintech Department

In recent years, in line with global trends, India’s growth has been fuelled by technology and platform economy, with physical moving towards digital and ‘phygital’.

Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 10: Series -1) RBI’s New FinTech Department: Industry Implications & Future

FIG Paper 8

Introduction:

With the pandemic acting as a tailwind for the digital payments industry in India, the fintech industry represents a key opportunity for the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) for its financial inclusion push in the country. A key driver in this regard is the burgeoning prepaid payment instruments (“PPI”) industry. PPIs have been widely used in the country for many years, but have seen significant commercial changes in recent times to reach a wider consumer base, given the high market penetration of mobile internet in India.

Continue Reading FIG Paper (No. 8) – New Master Directions for PPI – A Fresh Look at Prepaid Payment Instruments!

FIG Papers No. 6 - Series–2 RBI Payment Regulations – 2009 to 2021 - Bank ‘nodals’ to PA PG licenses Blog

Introduction:

In our previous FIG Paper, we shared key learnings from our experience in connection with the payment aggregator and payment gateway guidelines (“PA/PG Guidelines”) issued by the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) on March 17, 2020. Based on representations received from various industry associations and payment intermediaries, the RBI has formalised the clarifications (initially issued on September 17, 2020) relating to the PA/PG Guidelines on March 31, 2021 (“Clarifications”).
Continue Reading FIG Papers (No. 6: Series–2) RBI Payment Regulations – 2009 to 2021: Bank ‘nodals’ to PA/PG licenses!

RBI Payment Regulations - 2009 to 2021 - Bank nodals to PA PG licenses

Introduction:

In early March 2020, a regulatory moratorium imposed on a private bank in India froze the country’s digital payments ecosystem. Many payment aggregators (“PA”) and payment gateways (“PG”) had set up nodal accounts with this bank, including others, and it raised a question on whether the customer funds pooled in those accounts were bankruptcy ‘remote’. Within 10 days, the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) issued the payment aggregator and gateway guidelines (“PA/PG Guidelines”) on March 17, 2020, under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007 (“PSSA”), to regulate PAs and prescribe baseline technology standards for PAs and PGs.
Continue Reading FIG Papers (No. 5 : Series -1) : RBI Payment Regulations – 2009 to 2021: Bank ‘nodals’ to PA/PG licenses! 

Indian Mutual Funds – New M&A Rules! Anu Tiwari (Partner), Ritu Sajnani (Senior Associate), Utkarsh Bhatnagar (Senior Associate) and Karthik Koragal (Associate) The Securities Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) carried out a regulatory revamp exercise of SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996 (“MF Regulations”) and various circulars issued under it by way of a circular on mutual fund(s) (“MF”) issued on March 4, 2021 (“MF Circular”), effective from March 5, 2021, thereby streamlining a robust regime governing the reporting, compliance and disclosure requirements applicable to asset management company(ies) (“AMC”) and the trustee(s) of such AMCs. Reporting requirements strengthened Currently, the MF Circular requires an AMC to furnish the complete details of any indirect change in its control/ promoters of the sponsor(s) to SEBI and also notify details of a proposed change in control (whether direct or indirect) to the unitholders, by way of an email (in addition to publishing the same in newspapers. Similarly, in case of any proposed change to the fundamental attributes of a MF scheme, trustees are now mandated to obtain comments from SEBI, prior to effectuating such change. With an intent to ensure better compliance, SEBI has also expanded the scope of ‘key personnel’ of an AMC to include chief investment officer, chief risk officer, chief information security officer, chief operation officer, compliance officer, sales head, investor relation officer(s), etc. in addition to the erstwhile list of key personnel, which included the chief executive officer, fund manager(s), dealer(s) and head of other departments of the AMC. Hence, inter alia these new key personnel who are also now prohibited from carrying on self-dealing or front running activities, in addition to meeting the prescribed eligibility criteria. The revised reporting requirements extends SEBI’s regulatory prowess to monitor and bring more transparency in relation to the indirect change in control of the AMCs’ process. Relaxations and scrutiny go hand-in-hand In order to facilitate innovation in the MF space, SEBI has introduced certain relaxations like permitting employees of AMCs to participate in private placement of equity by any company, has allowed trustees to delegate its function(s) to declare/ fix a record date and decide the quantum of dividend, etc. to AMC officials. Further, trustees are now mandated to report to SEBI the MF securities dealt by them, only if a transaction exceeds INR 5 lakhs (vis-a-vis the previous threshold of INR 1 lakh). The regulator has also classified investment in non-convertible preference shares (“NCPSs”) as a ‘debt instrument’ and accordingly, limitation of a MF scheme to invest not more than 10% of its net asset value in debt instruments will also include NCPSs. The trustees now being required to obtain SEBI comments before effecting a ‘change in in the fundamental attributes of a MF scheme’ seems burden-some, as the regulator’s role, and oversight, already guarantees for the requisite checks and balances to govern the MF scheme, including for MF scheme transfers, through separate regulations and circulars in this behalf. Above is likely to add another layer to M&A deal-making, with already many layers involved, impacting deal costs and timelines, especially if a ‘new sponsor’ application may be involved, from a process, governance and unit holders’ standpoint. Albeit above ties into SEBI’s increasing focus on MF trustee’s accountability, which has hitherto been an overlooked area, given the nature and composition of MF trustee boards. Though, done with noble regulatory intent, one would have to see whether the above changes, including expansion of key personnel, further ‘spook’ trustee directors, especially independents - already an onerous position, with few upsides, especially after Calcutta High Court’s Order in the ITC / JPMorgan MF Trustees case, and SEBI’s approach qua Franklin Templeton trustees in 2020, expand the scope of potential SEBI show-cause ‘noticees’ from the current list of 7 (!), and shoot MF M&A in the knees, which was given a new lease of life recently via SEBI dropping the ‘3/ 5’ profitability criterion in Regulation 7, MF Regulations.

The Securities Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) carried out a regulatory revamp exercise of SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996 (“MF Regulations”) and various circulars issued under it by way of a circular on mutual fund(s) (“MF”) issued on March 4, 2021 (“MF Circular”), effective from March 5, 2021, thereby streamlining a robust regime governing the reporting, compliance and disclosure requirements applicable to asset management company(ies) (“AMC”) and the trustee(s) of such AMCs.
Continue Reading FIG Papers (No.4 : Series – 2): Indian Mutual Funds – New M&A Rules!