Algo case: SEBI may complete probing NSE officials by March

PALAK SHAH | | Updated on: Feb 22, 2018
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Next, former top executives, board members may be summoned

Market regulator SEBI may wrap up a bulk of its probe into the algo and unfair access-related case of the NSE by March end. SEBI has questioned a few current and former officials of the NSE in the past couple of weeks and it is likely that the regulator may summon former top officials and board members of the exchange for a final line of inquiry and statement, a source told BusinessLine .

After the NSE underwent two forensic audits in the past couple of years for giving unfair access to stock brokers for algorithmic trading, SEBI this year initiated its own inquiry to ascertain facts behind allegations against the exchange and has also formed its own internal team of core officials to look into the evidence collected by other agencies.

SEBI has flushed out email exchanges between various NSE officials and stock brokers who were trading on the platform and are trying to know what instructions were issued to whom in the matter by examining those emails and questioning particular officials, the source said.

“SEBI is trying to match the answers and statements given by the sender of the email and receiver during their individual questioning and ascertain if they were telling the truth with regard to the ultimate instruction issued and permission sought via email,” the source said.

Accounting firms aid

SEBI is being assisted by officials from the big four forensic accounting firms at the time of interrogation, the source said.

In December, SEBI officials visited the NSE premises and offices of several stock broking entities to take over or copy data in digital devices and computer hard disks. SEBI’s probe team comprises officials at the level of chief general manager and above from market regulations and other departments.

Through this probe, SEBI is trying to find out the exact role or possible collusion of each of the NSE employees who were showcaused by it earlier or even others who could be linked to the matter. Thirteen NSE officials were showcaused by SEBI.

SEBI's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in 2016 had said in its report that, “Preferential access was given by the NSE to stockbroker(s), wherein it was possible for a stockbroker to log into multiple dissemination servers through multiple Internet protocols assigned to them.” The NSE has consistently dismissed the allegations. In September 2016 at a meeting in SEBI, the entire TAC committee report was read out to key members of the NSE board. Following this meeting, some top level executives quit the NSE.

Published on February 22, 2018

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