NSE co-location case: CBI arrests former NSE GOO Anand Subramanian

Special court sends ex-group operating officer of NSE to CBI custody till March 6

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NSE co location case | Central Bureau of Investigation | National Stock Exchange

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) late on Thursday night arrested Anand Subramanian, former group operating officer of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), in Chennai within days of questioning him, say sources.

Quoting official sources, Press Trust of India has reported Subramanian has been brought to Delhi and produced before a special court, which has sent him to CBI custody till March 6.

Officials told PTI Subramanian was found to be evasive in his responses to the sleuths, and this prompted the CBI to take him into custody. The arrest was made in the case related to the co-location scam, the FIR for which was registered in May 2018, amid fresh revelations about irregularities at the country’s largest stock exchange.

The CBI has also questioned Chitra Ramkrishna, former managing director (MD) and former chief executive officer (CEO) of the exchange, and Ravi Narain, also former CEO of the NSE.

A report of the Securities and Exchange Board of India earlier this month showed that Ramkrishna took key decisions at the NSE from 2013 to 2016 on the advice of a “Himalayan yogi”, whom she had never met and who instructed her to appoint Subramanian group operating officer.

Subramanian was offered a salary of Rs 1.68 crore a year to join the NSE as chief strategic advisor on April 1, 2013, when he was vice-president at Leasing & Repair Services of Transafe Services Ltd, a subsidiary of Balmer Lawrie & Co. His salary was less than Rs 15 lakh per annum.

ALSO READ: NSE co-location case: Who is Anand Subramanian and why is he arrested?

Sebi, in its report earlier this month, said the best practices were not followed in Subramanian’s appointment.

In less than three years, Subramanian’s salary jumped to Rs 4.2 crore a year for working as consultant for four days in a week. Subramanian was later re-designated group operating officer and advisor to the MD with effect from April 1, 2015, but was never declared key management personnel by the exchange.

Sebi had penalised the NSE, Ramkrishna, and Narain for governance lapses in hiring Subramanian. Ramkrishna was told to pay Rs 3 crore, and Narain, Subramanian, and the NSE Rs 2 crore each.

Ramkrishna and Subramanian were restrained from associating themselves with any market infrastructure institution or Sebi-registered intermediary in any capacity for three years. For Narain the bar was two years.

The four-year-old FIR of the CBI was primarily against Sanjay Gupta, MD of OPG Securities. It also named his brother-in-law Aman Kokrady and Ajay Shah, a data specialist and researcher employed by the NSE, along with unknown officials of the NSE and Sebi for their role in the controversy.

IN THE DOCK

  • Subramanian arrested in connection with the co-location scam after days of questioning
  • He was evasive during interrogation, according to officials
  • A 2018 letter by ex-NSE chairman Ashok Chawla had suggested that Subramanian was the ‘yogi’ who allegedly advised former CEO Chitra Ramkrishna
  • A Sebi report rejected the claim that Subramanian was the alleged yogi

Between June 2010 and March 2014, the NSE had deployed the so-called tick-by-tick (TBT) architecture at its colo facility. TBT disseminated data feed sequentially, giving preference to trading members (TM) that had connected first to the colo server.

Taking advantage of the system, OPG Securities frequently obtained first access to the exchange system in connivance with certain NSE staffers. The issue was brought to light by a whistleblower, Ken Fong, who sent three complaint letters to Sebi in January, August, and October 2015, following which the regulator initiated multiple investigations and forensic audits into the matter.

In April 2019, Sebi directed the exchange to disgorge Rs 625 crore, along with an interest of 12 per cent annum since 2014, for lapses at its colo facility, which allowed unfair access to certain brokers. Sebi also told Narain and Ramkrishna, who were at the helm when the exchange servers were exploited, to disgorge a fourth of their salary for a specific period.

The market regulator directed OPG Securities, Gupta, and three others to disgorge Rs 15.6 crore, with an interest of 12 per cent per annum since April 2014. All of them have moved the Securities Appellate Tribunal against the order, where the matter is currently being heard.

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