Market: Ex-Bombay Stock Exchange official arrested in scandal involving fake yogi

(BFM Bourse) – A former head of the Indian Stock Exchange, without experience in the sector but promoted to a high position on the recommendation of a fake yogi, has been arrested. This spiritual master in question could be none other than the former leader himself.

The case caused a stir in India. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the local equivalent of the FBI, has arrested Anand Subramanian, former chief operating officer of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), in connection with irregularities in the so-called “installation of colocation” of the Exchange between 2010 and 2015. In August 2009, the NSE had decided to offer facilities to brokers willing to pay a supplement, allowing them to place their servers right next to those of the NSE, in order to have first access to the prices disseminated by the NSE trading system. At the heart of the controversy are allegations that some of these brokers have illegally benefited from this privileged access to the data disseminated by the exchange operator, giving them an advantage over the rest of the market.

“A CBI team arrested Anand Subramanian at his home in Madras (“Chennai” in Tamil) late last night,” an intelligence official told AFP.

Anand Subramanian had been appointed director of operations of the NSE in 2015 by the then director Chitra Ramkrishna, one of the rare women to impose herself in this very masculine world, who would have been advised by a “yogi” met on the shores of the Ganges. Chitra Ramkrishna resigned in 2016 after a series of allegations of wrongdoing. Anand Subramanian was previously hired by the NSE as a strategic adviser in April 2013 after an unusual recruitment process in which the human resources department was not consulted. No other candidacy had also been considered, and Anand Subramanian had seen his salary multiplied by more than 100 compared to his previous job, to 1.68 million rupees per year – or about 20,000 euros.

Rapid increases and family ties

Over the years, Anand Subramanian has further benefited from arbitrary and disproportionate increases in his remuneration, until he received 4.21 million rupees per year in 2017, more than almost all the leaders of the NSE. Anand Subramanian is otherwise related to Chitra Ramkrishna through family ties.

An investigation recently published by the market regulator (SEBI) revealed damning details of how the latter had shared sensitive information about her company with this “yogi”. Chitra Ramkrishna, 59, was interrogated for 12 hours last week but was not taken into custody.

The CBI now believe that the mystic, whose identity remains unknown, may be Anand Subramanian himself, manipulating Chitra Ramkrishna or working in concert with her. The yogi “manifested as he pleased and I had no geographical coordinates”, Ms Ramkrishna explained to the regulator, “so he gave me an email address on which I could send my requests”.

Indians consult astrologers, spiritual leaders and “god-men” for advice on a wide range of topics, and business is no exception in this highly religious country of 1.4 billion people. Anand Subramanian was hired by Chitra Ramkrishna in 2013, who promoted him to operations director two years later before he resigned in 2016 after allegations of wrongdoing.

The supposed yogi’s emails offered to meet for a “sea bath in the Seychelles”, one of the many tax havens, and in Singapore or Mauritius, where investigators are investigating possible tax evasion. A special lift was reserved for Anand Subramanian and Chitra Ramkrishna at the NSE and a specialist team ensured it had separate hand towels and soap dispensers in the toilets, according to reports.

(with AFP)

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