New Delhi: The Income Tax Department on Thursday raided premises linked to former NSE MD and CEO Chitra Ramkrishna in Mumbai as part of a tax evasion investigation against her and others, official sources said.
Officials said MD shared confidential information with a Himalayan yogi and took his advice on crucial decisions.
Chitra Ramkrishna was the managing director and CEO of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) between 2013 and 2016 and quit citing “personal reasons”.
She shared information including the bourse’s financial projections, business plans and board agenda with the spiritual guru living in the Himalayas, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said in an order.
The market regulator called it “bizarre misconduct” and a “glaring breach” of regulations.
“The sharing of financial and business plans of NSE … is a glaring, if not unimaginable, act that could shake the very foundations of the stock exchange,” SEBI said in its order, imposing penalties on Ms Ramkrishna, NSE and other top former executives for the lapses.
The guru was running the exchange, and Ms Ramkrishna was “merely a puppet in his hands”, SEBI said.
The decisions that Ms Ramkrishna took under the influence of the yogi included the appointment of a mid-level executive without any capital market experience, as an adviser and NSE’s operating officer. Ms Ramkrishna is accused of giving “frequent, arbitrary and disproportionate” increase in compensation to Anand Subramanian without any evidence of a performance evaluation.
Ms Ramkrishna is also accused of sharing internal information including financial and business plans of the NSE, dividend scenario, financial results with the yogi and consulting him over the performance appraisals of the exchange’s employees.
SEBI imposed a penalty of 30 million rupees on Ms Ramkrishna and barred her from any bourse and SEBI-registered intermediary for three years.
Ms Ramkrishna, defending herself, told SEBI that sharing of information with the person who was “spiritual in nature” did not compromise confidentiality or integrity.
She referred to the yogi as “Sironmani” and said that he guided her for the past 20 years on personal and professional matters. She also called him a “spiritual force that could manifest itself anywhere it wanted and did not have any physical or locational co-ordinates and largely dwelt in the Himalayan range”.
Ms Ramkrishna was among a group of executives who in the early 1990s started NSE as a challenger to the more established BSE Ltd, then known as Bombay Stock Exchange. She was appointed joint managing director of NSE in 2009 and promoted to CEO in 2013.