A market regulator’s investigation has shown that the previous chief of India’s largest stock exchange discussed private information with a yogi and asked his counsel on critical choices, ahead of the bourse’s much-anticipated public listing.
Chitra Ramkrishna, the former chief executive of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), communicated details including the bourse’s financial predictions, business goals, and board agenda with a purported spiritual guru in the Himalayas, according to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Ramkrishna, who left the NSE in 2016 for “personal matters,” could not be reached for comment immediately. Requests for a response from the NSE and SEBI went unanswered.
For some years, NSE has been beset by accusations of corporate governance failures. The exchange had intended to go public in 2017, but its listing was delayed due to suspicions that authorities gave some high-frequency traders unjustified access to co-location servers, which might have sped up algorithmic trading.
Following a three-year probe, SEBI penalised the exchange more than $90 million and restricted it from procuring funds on the securities markets for six months. The NSE has filed a judicial challenge to the ruling and has asked SEBI for permission to register for a fresh IPO.
During that probe, however, SEBI discovered records including Ramkrishna’s emails to an unidentified person, whom she said during interrogation was a “spiritual power” from whom she had sought advice for 20 years.
In her defence, Ramkrishna informed SEBI that exchanging information with someone who was “spiritual in nature” did not jeopardise confidentiality or integrity.
SEBI further stated that the NSE and its board of directors were aware of the sharing of private information but preferred to “keep the situation under wraps.”
The NSE was fined 20 million rupees ($270,000) and forbidden from introducing any new products for six months by the regulator.
Ramkrishna was fined 30 million rupees by SEBI and forbidden from working with any bourse or SEBI-registered intermediary for three years.