Chitra Ramkrishna saga: Investigators scan emails for coded language

PALAK SHAH | | Updated on: Feb 17, 2022
Chitra Ramkrishna, former MD and CEO, National Stock Exchange

Chitra Ramkrishna, former MD and CEO, National Stock Exchange | Photo Credit: SHASHI ASHIWAL

Out-of-context mentions of travel plans and unknown children raise suspicions

Investigators examining the email exchanges between Chitra Ramkrishna, NSE’s controversial former MD and CEO, and an unidentified yogi have found several instances that suggest the two may have been using a coded language.

The emails, which show that a ‘yogi’ was guiding her in running the NSE, have several paragraphs that seem out of place. 

For example, in February 2017, the guru wrote to Ramkrishna, “Keep bags ready I am planning a travel to Seychelles next month, will try if you can come with me, before Kanchan goes to London with Kaanchana and Barghava and you to New Zealand with two children. ‘HK is a preferred transit or Singapore for onward journey.’ In case you need help, pi let me know Seshu will do the needful.” 

This puzzled the investigators since there were direct flights between India and Seychelles, a mere four-hour journey, from the end of 2014. In the absence of direct flights, Dubai and Srilanka were the only transit points for travel to Seychelles from India. But the guru wanted Ramkrishna to take an onward journey from Hong Kong or Singapore, even though they had no direct connections to Seychelles back then and it entailed 8- 10 hours of travel. Add to this,the 3-4 hours needed to fly from India to Singapore or Hong Kong. Investigators are examining if the circuitous route was taken to hide travel details .

Two children?

The mention of “two children” has also caught the investigators’ attention. Sources in the NSE and others who have interacted with Ramkrishna personally say she only had a daughter. Investigators are checking if she had two children or whether the use of ‘two children’ could be a code for another purpose. 

Ramkrishna had appointed one Anand Subramanian as a virtual second-in-command at the NSE. SEBI has said that the names Kanchan and Kanchana in the emails refer to  Subramanian and his wife, who was working with the NSE’s Chennai office. But questions arise over why the couple was to travel to London, that too on the Baba’s advice, and why he wanted Ramkrishna to go to New Zealand with (whose) two children? Was ‘two children’ a code for something else? All these questions have been left unanswered by SEBI.

Why Seychelles?

The emails also reveal that before Ramkrishna went to New Zealand, the guru wanted her to travel to the island-nation Seychelles. Interestingly, Seychelles is an offshore tax haven, but in the context of India, it attracts little attention from authorities since Mauritius, Singapore and the Swiss Alps have been the preferred tax havens for hiding or rerouting hot money into the country. The emails between Ramkrishna and her guru date back to a time when India had no information-sharing treaty with Seychelles on black money.

India signed an information-sharing pact with Seychelles in August 2015. Thus, only a person with full knowledge of India’s administrative, political and legal system could choose Seychelles for hiding their wealth, knowing it would attract less scrutiny compared to other larger tax havens. 

Seychelles imposes no tax on companies that use the island’s banks for investment or routing money to other countries, including India. In other words, an offshore company in Seychelles pays no taxes on income generated abroad. There are also no capital gains tax, dividends, interest, inheritance, or property tax.

Published on February 17, 2022
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