SEBI levied a penalty of Rs 15 lakh on an individual for leaking the price-related sensitive information prior to the official announcement.
In the second incident related to sharing sensitive corporate information on WhatsApp, capital markets regulator SEBI has imposed a Rs 15 lakh fine on a person for leaking unverified financial results of Bata on the messaging service. SEBI levied a penalty on Aditya Omprakash Gaggar for leaking the information prior to the official announcement, PTI reported citing SEBI. The action taken by the Securities and Exchange Board of India is based on the investigation conducted between January 2016 and February 2016. Earlier this month, another individual Shruti Vishal Vora, who worked with Antique Stock Broking, was penalised with a fine of Rs 15 lakh due to the same reason.
The allegations on Aditya Omprakash Gaggar are that he leaked Bata’s sales figures, profit after tax, and EBITDA for the Q3 FY16, which exactly matched with that of the financial results of Bata Ltd announced later on the same day. Sebi said that the disclosure of such sensitive information violates the rule of parity of information and perpetuated information asymmetry.
BJ Dilip, the adjudicating officer in the matter, said that the case of Gaggar involves circulating unpublished price-sensitive information (UPSI) by the insider and easily wiping out evidence by deleting his own messages and conveniently making the information reach to the targeted groups. During the investigation, Sebi had initiated a preliminary examination in the matter, which led to the search and seizure operation for 26 entities for WhatsApp groups. Nearly 190 devices, records, and among others, were seized in such operations. The report added that the WhatsApp chats extracted from the seized devices revealed earnings data and other financial information of around 12 companies, including Bata India.
Undisclosed information related to the financial results may lead to market manipulation and unfair profit-making by the people access to such information. Meanwhile, Sebi had also penalised an individual Neeraj Kumar Agarwal with a fine of Rs 15 lakh after finding him guilty of releasing unpublished price sensitive information related to financial results of Asian Paints through WhatsApp messages prior to the official announcement earlier this month.