Markets

NSE appointment of China-linked tech consultant under scanner

PALAK SHAH | Updated on: Apr 17, 2022

David Tsoi headed obscure tech companies, had People’s Bank of China, Shanghai Exchange as main clients apart from India’s NSE and NSDL

Did the National Stock Exchange (NSE), under its previous bosses, Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna, make an error of judgement in appointing a technology consultant who was closely linked to China? Investigations into the NSE scam have revealed that David Tsoi, a Hong Kong (HK) resident who touted himself as an expert in low latency stock exchange trading technology, market data dissemination system, risk management systems, and mobile device applications, was consulted by the NSE on several of its core technology projects ,including dissemination of data packets via multicast and TCP IP for the colocation (COLO) trading systems, sources told Business Line.

While Tsoi has not been linked to any illegal activity in India so far, data theft at NSE has been a key concern ever since the colocation (COLO) trading scam came to light. It was also discovered that some brokers, who got unfair access to NSE trading systems, had their presence in international jurisdictions, including HK.

Tsoi visited NSE almost every month for several years when Ramkrishna and Narain headed the exchange. Since NSE needed his advice on several sensitive technology-related aspects, Tsoi had an insight and the blueprint of working of NSE’s core technology, the sources say. In 2012 when NSE suffered a massive crash and market regulator SEBI blamed the shortcomings in the trading systems of the exchange, Tsoi was consulted to suggest changes in the index-based market-wide circuit breakers.

Globally, large businesses and governments are suspicious of China’s role in the theft of data, intellectual property, business and government information. In the US and Canada, several Chinese nationals and firms have allegedly been accused of stealing data and indulging in espionage for the communist regime. In fact, India itself has banned hundreds of Chinese mobile apps and has put nearly all China-linked investments under the scanner.

Tsoi, the mystery man

Attempts by BusinessLine to reach Tsoi were futile. Not much information is available about Tsoi on the internet, which deepens the mystery since the NSE considered him a global expert in exchange trading systems. A search reveals that Tsoi’s LinkedIn profile has been deleted. There is no website for the two large consulting firms that he headed. One such company Techlinks Systems, has also been dissolved.

A brief bio note about Tsoi on the HK stock market news and regulations webstie says he was the vice president of technology solutions at NWCB (New World Cyberbas Ltd ). However, another website shows that NWCB, which was incorporated in 1999, was dissolved in January 2013. A web search reveals that NWCB could have had most of its business in China. Further, the bio note claims that Tsoi had over 25 years of experience in the IT industry, but the names of the companies or organisations he had worked for more than two decades are not given.

The note says that Tsoi is an expert in technical consultancy, project management, software development and the implementation of system start-ups and his portfolio of clients included mostly Chinese entities including People’s Bank of China, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shanghai Airline, Hongkong International Terminals, and Inda’s NSE and National Securities Depository Limited.

NSE did not respond to queries sent by BusinessLine.

Published on April 17, 2022
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