From stringent measures against erring entities to successful completion of merger with FMC, 2015 was a Bull Run year for regulator Sebi in bringing back investor trust to markets – a trend set to continue in the New Year.
With a number of proactive reform measures, as also some strict and faster enforcement actions, Sebi sought to usher in greater trust of all stakeholders including investors and the market entities.
The efforts were well reflected in India being ranked by the World Bank for the second continuous year at the eighth position globally on protecting the interests of minority shareholders, above many developed countries. In fact, this is the only parameter where India is ranked in the top-ten on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, where the country’s overall position continues to remain very low at 130th place after a modest improvement. Enforcement got a big thrust this year, with Sebi taking action against many unauthorised CIS and deemed public issues.
The notable action was against PACL where money has been raised to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore. The market regulator’s enforcement machinery worked in clock work precision after the company failed to refund the money within the time period granted by the Securities Appellate Tribunal and it passed recovery orders against PACL and attached its assets.
This reminiscent of the action taken against MPS greenery in June 2013 when Sebi issued enforcement orders after the deadline was over. Other important enforcement orders passed by Sebi were against entities indulging in market manipulation while trying to avoid Long Term Capital Gains Tax. Sebi’s surveillance system helped in tracking this manipulation and about Rs 15,000 crore are estimated as tax avoidance.
Sebi banned 900 entities from dealing in securities markets. The amendment to Sebi Act provided for special courts to try prosecution cases filed by the regulator. In 2015 itself, a special court started functioning in Mumbai and cases filed by Sebi are being heard on a daily basis. This has already created jitters among the corporates and others who had thought that prosecution cases might take years to be heard. The merger of 60-year-old commodities markets regulator FMC with Sebi added another feather to the cap of the capital markets regulator.