CBI has started interrogation of senior NSE employees who were named in the co-location (COLO) scam and worked under Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna. On Monday, N Murlidaran, the CEO of NSE Infotech Service Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of NSE was interrogated by CBI for hours, sources told Business Line.
This week, the CBI also interrogated Sankarson Banerjee and will be calling in Nand Kumar for questioning. Both were part of NSE’s core technology team then. Umesh Jain who had joined NSE in September 2012 as vice president and left the exchange in a short time, was also quizzed by the investigation agency in Mumbai. CBI will also question four other senior NSE officials, who are working with the exchange even now, sources said.
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Investigations have revealed that Murlidaran and his team allegedly passed on trading data to Ajay Shah, a former consultant to the Finance Ministry, who was also earlier named in the co-location scam. Entire technology staff at NSE between 2009 and 2013 was reporting to Murlidharan, who in turn reported directly to Ramkrishna, when she was NSE’s Joint MD.
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CBI is deciphering who ordered the creation of a ‘flawed co-location trading architecture,’ sources said. Previous investigations show that NSE’s COLO trading systems had deliberate flaws that gave advantage to a few. Murlidaran was Ramkrishna’s go to man for technology matters and he suggested the COLO designs and ideas while Nand Kumar implemented them, the sources say. Software development and design was under Murlidharan and effectively, Narain and Ramkrishna played a key role in NSE’s technology related matters through him.
Ravi Apte, who was another technology expert with NSE between 2009 and 2012, has revealed in his interrogation to market regulator SEBI that he had “facilitated the transfer of data, related to equity orders and trades, to Shah using Murlidaran’s team and on the request of MD and DMD.” Investigators are following this trail, the sources said.
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Tech related roles
Despite each having their formal roles, the technology related functions of NSE were scattered, the sources said. Some NSE staff were made in-charge of certain technology related functions and those people also had responsibility of other non technology departments / roles so that they could report directly to Ramkrishna and at no point of time to the then chief technology officer, Jain. Investigations have revealed that Ramkrishna and Murlidharan were directly responsible for the selection of the TCP/IP (order communication) architecture, which, of course, had flaws. Yet, when Narain was stepping down from his position as MD and CEO in 2013, he insisted that the board of the exchange selected Ramkrishna for the top job. As soon as Ramkrishna became the MD and CEO she made the controversial appointment of Anand Subramanian on the orders of the unknown Yogi. Subramanian also held the charge of development, pricing, strategic planning and NSE’s key subsidiaries — IISL, DOTEX, NSE Tech and NSE IT.