Our Bureau

Mumbai, May 6

IN the latest twist in the Ambani drama over control of Reliance group companies, Mr Anil Ambani met Mr M. Damodaran, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India, on Thursday evening. The meeting, at SEBI's headquarters here, lasted an hour.

Though details of the discussions are not forthcoming from either party, Mr Anil Ambani is understood to have raised issues concerning corporate governance and non-adherence to other listing requirements.

The meeting assumes significance in the light of Mr Mukesh Ambani's visit to the Prime Minister's Office earlier this week

Mr Anil Ambani had earlier made accusations about price rigging in the Reliance Industries scrip. Later, he raised issues regarding lack of clarity on the acceptance of his resignation from the IPCL board. He also did not sign the financial account of RIL and attributed this to the absence of relevant information and disclosure.

Mr Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, a close aide of Mr Anil Ambani, had also raised the issue of sale of IPCL equity by Reliance Capital without making any statutory disclosures.

Despite these accusations, SEBI has so far not made any announcements about investigating the Reliance group companies. At its board meeting, last week, SEBI board members had said that the regulator keeps all matters under surveillance.

SEBI officials termed Thursday's meeting as a `casual' one. The capital market regulator may not be in a position to take action against Reliance as it has not received any complaints so far. Though both SEBI and Ministry of Company Affairs have the authority to investigate these accusations, neither of them has initiated any action so far, said a corporate analyst.

Further, this is probably the first time that the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of a large company has refused to sign the annual accounts of his own company and made it public, he said. It is not known whether Mr Anil Ambani has filed a formal complaint about these during his meeting with Mr Damodaran.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 7, 2005)
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