Jhunjhunwala & family offer to ‘settle’ Aptech insider-trading case

PALAK SHAH Mumbai | Updated on January 18, 2021

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, stock-market investor   -  PAUL NORONHA

High-profile stock market investors, including billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and Ramesh Damani, have approached market regulator SEBI to ‘settle’ an insider-trading case where they are currently being probed, sources in the know told BusinessLine.

The case relates to trading in the shares of Aptech Computers in 2016.

Others being probed in the matter, and who have also sought to settle the matter with SEBI, include Jhunjhunwala’s brother Rajesh Kumar a chartered accountant, wife Rekha, and mother-in-law Sushiladevi Gupta.

Ushma Sheth, who is the sister of Utpal Sheth, CEO of Jhunjhunwala’s flagship investment company Rare Enterprises, and Madhu Vadera Jayakumar, a board member of Aptech, have also sought settle the issue.

Notices and summons were issued to all these investors last year and some were even questioned extensively.

When contacted, a senior executive of Rare Enterprises declined to comment. Damani and Jayakumar did not respond to phone calls and messages. SEBI did not respond to an email.

Consent settlement

Under consent settlement, those being probed by SEBI can pay a fine, as determined by a regulatory committee, and get away without ‘accepting’ or ‘denying’ the act of alleged wrongdoing. There is no ‘guilty’ pronouncement. Trading in Aptech shares by these investors between February and September 2016 has been under SEBI scanner. SEBI found that there was unpublished price-sensitive information in Aptech when the high profile investors were dealing in the company shares.

Jhunjhunwala has management control over Aptech and is also on its board. In September 2016, the Aptech share price hit the 10 per cent upper circuit as Jhunjhunwala’s brother and sister picked up 2.5 lakh and 5 lakh shares, respectively. Both these trades combined were worth over ₹100 crore then. There were trades by others too. In just a few days, Aptech announced entry into the pre-school education segment.

Shareholding of promoters, led by the Jhunjhunwala family, increased to around 48 per cent in Aptech since they first picked up a 10 per cent stake in the company in 2005.

Published on January 18, 2021

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