Sebi bans former TV anchor Pandya, 7 others from securities market for 5 years, slaps fine

NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) Markets regulator Sebi on Tuesday barred Pradeep Pandya, who was anchoring stock market shows on a television channel, and seven other entities from securities market for five years and imposed a fine of Rs 2.6 crore collectively for indulging in fraudulent trading activities.

Apart from Pandya, others banned by Sebi are Alpesh Furiya, Manish Furiya, Alpa Furiya, Alpesh Vasanji Furiya HUF, Manish V Furiya HUF, Mahan Investment and Toshee Trade.

Pandya was the host/co-host of various shows at CNBC Awaaz till August 2021, while Alpesh Furiya appeared on the television channel as a guest/external expert and gave stock recommendations on his Twitter handle.

A high correlation was noted between the stock recommendations given by Pradeep Pandya on the show 'Pandya Ka Funda' and the Buy-Today-Sell-Tomorrow trades and intra-day trades executed by Alpesh Furiya and connected entities during the period from November 2019 to January 2021.

"Pradeep Pandya, while serving as an anchor for CNBC Awaaz, shared confidential information regarding upcoming stock recommendations with Alpesh Furiya and vice-versa," Sebi said in its final 55-page order.

Alpesh Furiya, capitalizing on this privileged information, executed trades through his own accounts and those of related entities, positioning himself to profit before the recommendations were publicly aired, it added.

The regulator also noted that Furiya passed on these tips to Opu Funikant Nag in exchange for a salary increase.

This behaviour not only demonstrates a clear intent to leverage insider information but also reveals a systematic approach to exploiting information asymmetry for personal gain, Sebi noted.

In December 2020, the National Stock Exchange had forwarded a report wherein it had analysed the trading activities of Alpesh Furiya and related entities.

Thereafter, Sebi carried out the further analysis in the matter between November 2020 and January 2021.

The regulator analysed call data records of Pandya and Alpesh Furiya and noted that Pandya was uniquely placed to have access, in advance, to the information pertaining to the recommendations.

Pandya communicated the information to Alpesh Furiya and connected entities, who in turn traded in a repeated and consistent pattern of trading, in synchronisation with the recommendations made by Pandya on his show.

By indulging in such trades, the entities violated the provisions of PFUTP (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices) norms.

Accordingly, Sebi has restrained Pandya, Alpesh Furiya, and other six entities from "accessing the securities market and further prohibited from buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in securities, directly or indirectly, or being associated with the securities market in any manner whatsoever, for a period of five years".

Also, the regulator levied a fine of Rs 1 crore each on Pandya and Alpesh Furiya and Rs 10 lakh each on the remaining six entities.

Additionally, Sebi has directed Alpesh Furiya, its related accounts as well as Opu Funikant Nag to disgorge unlawful gains made by fraudulent trades.

Alpesh Furiya and its related accounts made unlawful gain of Rs 10.73 crore and of this Rs 8.4 crore has already been impounded by Sebi and now they have to disgorge the remaining amount of Rs 2.34 crore.

Besides, the regulator has directed Opu Funikant Nag to disgorge unlawful gain of Rs 10.20 lakh. PTI SP HVA