Regulator SEBI on Friday imposed penalties on Reliance Industries Ltd, its Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani as well as two other entities for alleged manipulative trading in the shares of erstwhile Reliance Petroleum Ltd (RPL) back in November 2007.
Fines of ₹25 crore and ₹15 crore have been imposed on Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and Mr. Ambani, respectively. Besides, Navi Mumbai SEZ Pvt Ltd has been asked to pay a penalty of ₹20 crore and Mumbai SEZ Ltd has been directed to pay ₹10 crore.
The case pertains to sale and purchase of RPL shares in the cash and the futures segments in November 2007. This followed RIL’s decision in March 2007 to sell 4.1% stake in RPL, a listed subsidiary that was later merged with RIL in 2009.
In a 95-page order, SEBI’s Adjudicating Officer B J Dilip said any manipulation in the volume or price of securities always erodes investor confidence in the market when investors find themselves at the receiving end of market manipulators.
"In this case, the general investors were not aware that the entity behind the above F&O segment transactions was RIL. The execution of the... fraudulent trades affected the price of the RPL securities in both cash and F&O segments and harmed the interests of other investors," he said in the order.
While noting that execution of manipulative trades affects the price discovery system itself, the Adjudicating Officer said, "I am of the view that such acts of manipulation have to be dealt sternly so as to dissuade manipulative activities in the capital markets." On March 24, 2017, SEBI had ordered RIL and certain other entities to disgorge over ₹447 crore in the RPL case. In November 2020, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) dismissed the company’s appeal against the order.
At that time, RIL had said it would challenge the tribunal’s order in the Supreme Court.