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Former NSE CEO Chitra Ramakrishna arrested by CBI in ‘Himalayan Yogi’ scandal

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Former National Stock Exchange (NSE) Chief Executive Chitra Ramkrishna, accused of grave lapses at India’s largest stock market including sharing confidential information with an individual she dubbed a “Himalayan yogi”, has been arrested by the CBI.

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The development came days after former NSE Group Operating Officer, Anand Subramanian, was arrested by the agency in the same case. Ms. Ramkrishna, who worked with the exchange from the early 1990s, was its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer from April 2013 to December 2016. More arrests are likely soon in the case.

On February 11, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had levied penalties on Ms. Ramkrishna, Mr. Subramanian, and former NSE MD Ravi Narain on account of multiple violations, including irregularities in Mr. Subramanian’s appointment as a Chief Strategic Advisor and his re-designation as the Group Operating Officer and Advisor to the then NSE MD.

Subsequently, the Income-Tax Department had also conducted searches on the premises of Ms. Ramkrishna and Mr. Subramanian in Mumbai and Chennai, while the CBI issued “look out” circulars against the two and Mr. Narain, following which their statements were recorded by the agency.

Last month, the mysterious “Himalayan yogi” who allegedly influenced Ramkrishna’s decisions was outed as Anand Subramanian, also a former officer at the stock exchange arrested in a market manipulation case. Anand Subramanian, the former Chief Operating Officer of the NSE, was the “yogi” who communicated with Chitra Ramkrishna through email, the CBI sources said. The CBI has already arrested Subramanian and he is currently in police remand.

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His controversial appointment was one of the decisions that Chitra Ramkrishna took under the so-called yogi’s influence, SEBI had said in a report.

SEBI has charged Ms Ramkrishna, who was the MD and CEO of the NSE from April 2013 to December 2016, and others with alleged governance lapses in the appointment of Mr Subramanian and his outsized promotion.

It has said NSE and its board were aware of the interactions with the controversial adviser but had chosen to “keep the matter under wraps”.

The CBI, meanwhile, is probing the allegations of improper dissemination of information from the computer servers of the market exchanges to stockbrokers in what has come to be known as the “co-location scam”.

The agency had questioned her for four days last month in the case filed in 2018 that involves an unfair advantage in trading to some brokers.

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“During the questioning, Ramakrishna gave evasive answers claiming no knowledge of the co-location server passing the buck to Muralidharan Natarajan, then CTO (Chief Technology Officer) of NSETECH,” sources told NDTV.

Chitra Ramakrishna will be produced in the CBI court in the national capital on Monday along with then Anand Subramanian. The agency plans to question both of them together and suspects that they introduced the non-existent ‘Yogi’ to mislead the investigation.

Since confidential information from the NSE was shared with outsiders, the agency is also trying to find those who profited from it.

In response to public criticism over the controversies, the NSE said it was “committed to highest standards of governance and transparency”, and described the issue as being “almost six to nine years old”.

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