SEBI may settle issue for ₹40 crore, largest through consent mechanism

PALAK SHAH Mumbai | Updated on February 18, 2021

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala   -  Businessline

Jhunjhunwala, others, moved regulator in January for settlement

Market regulator SEBI is likely to settle the high-profile insider trading case involving India’s billionaire stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala and others for a total penalty amount of ₹35 crore to ₹40 crore, sources told BusinessLine.

The case relates to trading in shares of Aptech Ltd in 2016.

In terms of the amount that SEBI will collect for settlement of insider trading charges, the Aptech case is likely to be India’s largest so far. In May 2020, Aurobindo Pharma promoters involving the Reddy family had settled insider trading charges by paying ₹22 crore to SEBI.

The SEBI order in Aptech case is expected over the next couple of weeks, sources said. Under SEBI’s consent settlement, the accused can get away without admission or denial of guilt by paying a monetary fine. In the Aptech case, a settlement proposal was moved in January by those under probe.

Jhunjhunwala has management control over Aptech and is also on the board of the company. In September 2016, the share price of Aptech hit a 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 more than ₹100 crore then. There were trades by others too. In just a few days, Aptech announced its entry into the pre-school education segment.

Shareholding of promoters led by the Jhunjhunwala family has increased to around 48 per cent in Aptech since the prominent investor first picked up a 10 per cent stake in the company in 2005. SEBI found that there existed unpublished price sensitive information in Aptech when the high-profile investors were dealing in the company shares.

Apart from Jhunjhunwala, others who were probed by SEBI include Ramesh Damani, Jhunjhunwala’s brother Rajesh Kumar, a chartered accountant, wife Rekha, mother-in-law Sushiladevi Gupta, Ushma Sheth and Madhu Vadera Jayakumar. Ushma is the sister of Utpal Sheth, CEO, Rare Enterprises, Jhunjhunwala’s flagship investment company.

Jayakumar is a board member of Aptech. Notice and summons were issued to all these investors last year. Trading in Aptech by these investors between February and September 2016 was under SEBI scanner.

Published on February 18, 2021

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