Ashok Chawla quits as NSE chief after CBI gets nod for probe

PALAK SHAH New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2019

Ashok Chawla

Ashok Chawla on Friday resigned as the Chairman of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) after the CBI got the Finance Ministry’s nod to prosecute him in the Aircel-Maxis bribery scandal.

Chawla is an accused along with former Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the CBI chargesheet. The NSE, in a statement, said Chawla had resigned with immediate effect “in light of recent legal developments.”

Conflict of interest

BusinessLine reported on January 10 that Chawla’s fate as NSE chief was in question. He was appointed NSE Chairman in 2016, before which he was Chairman of the Competition Commission of India. On August 18 last year, BusinessLine had also reported about a conflict of interest in Chawla’s role as NSE Chairman and as a key board member of Jet Airways after the exchange started questioning the airline about its financials.

A few months ago, Chawla had to resign as non-executive chairman of YES Bank, citing personal reasons.

Chidambaram is accused of corruption in passing the Aircel-Maxis deal as the country’s Finance Minister. Any deal worth more than ₹600 crore has to be taken to the Cabinet for approval but the ₹3,600-crore Aircel-Maxis deal was not routed there. Chidambaram claimed that he was advised by bureaucrats to do so. Chawla had served as the Finance Secretary under Chidambaram.

Former Under-Secretary for Economic Affairs Ashok Kumar Jha and currently serving IAS officers, Joint Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Director Deepak Kumar Singh and Under-Secretary Ram Sharan, are also said to have aided Chidambaram in passing the deal and are named as accused in the CBI chargesheet filed in June 2018.

Published on January 11, 2019

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