Sebi is looking into possible manipulations in currency derivatives, which are forward value contracts for currency pairs including rupee and dollar.
As the rupee continues to trade near the 60-level against the US dollar, certain brokers and traders have come under regulatory scanner for possible manipulation in the forex spot and derivative markets.
Sebi is looking into possible manipulations in currency derivatives, which are forward value contracts for pairs of two currencies including rupee and dollar, sources said.
The regulator also suspects that brokers and traders might be indulging in unauthorised trading of foreign exchange in the spot forex market, sources said, while adding that these issues are being flagged to the Reserve Bank.
While the RBI mainly regulates the forex market, currency derivatives come under Sebi’s jurisdictions as they are traded on the stock exchanges.
However, the suspected manipulations are mostly taking place outside the stock exchange platform and the brokers are luring gullible investors to place bets on currency pairs on promises that rupee is going to touch even lower levels.
With an aim to help in government efforts to stem falling rupee, Sebi last week tightened the exposure norms for currency derivatives to check large scale speculative activity in the market.
The decision was taken after consultations with banking regulator RBI, which has also tightened its norms for banks’ exposure to the forex derivatives.
Currency derivative trading allows traders and investors to take forward positions on various currency pairs, including rupee vs dollar. In recent times, there have been apprehensions that large-scale speculations on currency pairs is adding to the downward pressure on the rupee, which recently fell to a new low below Rs 61 level against the US dollar.
However, it has recovered some of the lost ground since then and now trades slightly above Rs 60 level, after regulators unleashed a slew of steps to curb speculative trades.
Sebi has reduced the exposure that brokers and their clients can take on currency derivatives and also doubled their margins on dollar-rupee contracts.
The exposure to all currency contracts for a broker has been capped at 15 per cent of their overall exposure, or USD 50 million, whichever is lower.
For clients, this cap would be 6 per cent, or USD 10 million, whichever is lower.
The current exposure limits for brokers and clients are the higher amounts of 15 per cent of their overall exposure or USD 50 million, and 6 per cent or USD 10 million, respectively.
The market regulator had said the move has been initiated in the view of the recent phase of extreme volatility in USD-INR exchange rate.