NSE ex-MD Chitra Ramkrishna under CBI radar in server case 

CBI examines Ms. Ramkrishna in connection with case registered in May 2018 

February 18, 2022 03:18 pm | Updated 11:52 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Former National Stock Exchange MD Chitra Ramkrishna.

Former National Stock Exchange MD Chitra Ramkrishna. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday examined former NSE (National Stock Exchange) managing director Chitra Ramkrishna in a case registered in May 2018 for alleged abuse of server architecture of the Exchange to provide access to a private company to the data before any other broker.

“Look-out Circulars have also been issued against Ms. Ramkrishna; former group operating officer and advisor to the exchange, Anand Subramanian; and Ravi Narain, who was the managing director and chief executive officer of the NSE from April 1994 to March 2013,” an agency official said. Statements of other persons may also been recorded soon.

The development came a day after the Income-Tax Department carried out searches on the premises of Ms. Ramkrishna and Mr. Subramanian in Mumbai and Chennai.

Use of software

The CBI case is against stock-broker OPG Securities, its owner Sanjay Gupta and others, including unknown officials of the Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE). As alleged, using an algorithmic trading software package named “Chanakya”, the company got market feeds from the NSE server ahead of others.

The software was developed by accused Ajay Narottam Shah using the NSE trade data collected by him during 2005-06 in the garb of research work. He subsequently sold it to OPG Securities and some other brokers, according to the First Information Report.

The agency had alleged that Mr. Gupta and his brother-in-law, Aman Kakrady, were into illegal trading in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and Ghana through OPG Securities. During 2010-12, he got illegal access to the NSE’s server architecture in connivance with the Exchange officials through “co-location” facility. This helped the company to log in first to the Exchange server ahead of other brokers.

It was alleged that in 2012, a load balancer -- a device that facilitates distribution of network traffic across servers, -- had been installed by the NSE. While servers of all the other brokers were linked to the Exchange’s primary servers, Mr. Gupta got access to the back-up server with the help of the data-centre employees of the NSE. As the back-up server had “zero load”, the company got expeditious access to the data.

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