The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Monday put off the hearing in Reliance Industries’ appeal against markets regulator Sebi in the 2007 insider-trading case to November 15.
At the last hearing on October 11, SAT had suggested Sebi to consider the RIL application for a consent settlement that allows companies and individuals to settle disputes by paying a fine without admission or denial of the alleged wrongdoing.
Earlier in the day today, the tribunal adjourned the hearings after the RIL side said that their senior counsel Janak Dwarakadas would be present for the afternoon hearing. But since Dwarakadas could not make it on time, the SAT adjourned the case for next Friday, saying it would like to hear the case from him.
Sebi lawyer Darius Khambata said the regulator has already given RIL the three documents it had sought for inspection related to the alleged insider trading probe.
SAT has been hearing the appeal filed by RIL against Sebi in the insider-trading case related to its erstwhile arm Reliance Petroleum dating back to 2007.
The company is also contesting the regulator’s decision of May 2012 to keep the case out of the consent mechanism, suggesting the amount involved is too high.
Under Sebi’s consent mechanism, companies can seek to settle cases with the regulator after paying certain charges and disgorgement of any ill-gotten gains.
The case dates back to 2007, when before the merger of RPL with itself, RIL short-sold 4.1 per cent stake in Reliance Petroleum for Rs. 4,023 crore in the futures market to allegedly prevent a price correction and later in the spot market, covering the share sales in the futures market.
The company had allegedly booked a profit of Rs. 513 crore in the futures segment through this deal. RPL was later merged with RIL. Sebi claimed that the company was aware of the sale of shares and sold futures ahead of that, therefore amounting to insider trading.
At a previous hearing, the SAT had asked Sebi to produce the file on the alleged RIL insider trading case and the notings of the committee that decided to withdraw the company from the consent mechanism.
Under the consent mechanism companies/individuals can seek to settle cases by paying a fine but without admitting to or denying any wrongdoing. In case the allegations are proved, then a company may end up paying up to three times the profit made from the illegal trade practices.
In May 2012, Sebi had tightened the consent mechanism framework. As a result, many cases, including those related to insider trading, are not being settled through this mechanism.
On January 3 this year, Sebi published a list of 149 consent pleas, including 16 from entities related to the RIL Group, which it had not found suitable for consent settlement.