The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is working overtime to retain the services of R.Ravichandran, Chief General Manager who handles the surveillance and investigation function at the regulatory body.
The effort to retain Mr.Ravichandran is raising eyebrows, because his continued deputation at the market watchdog has been rejected not only by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which is the decision making body in his case, but also by the Finance Minister himself.
We learn that SEBI initially made a request to retain Mr.Ravichandran to the revenue department but when it was rejected, his case was taken to the Finance Minister, who again rejected the request. Interestingly, the official continues to remain at SEBI although his term officially ended on July 17 this year.
Informed sources tell us that SEBI claimed that Mr.Chandran was required to complete some sensitive investigations and would remain until the beginning of August. However, he continues to remain at the regulatory body even a month after his deputation term ended. This has led to new speculation that SEBI wants to retain him as Executive Director in defiance of the government’s wishes, because the officer has now completed the mandatory 20 years of service in the next couple of days. This is the minimum service requirement for government officials.
Mr.Ravichandran handles the sensitive Inter-market surveillance system (IMSS) and has been the target of at least a hundreds of letters of complaint that have gone to the finance ministry and the media against him and his senior colleague. These letters have all be ignored after SEBI’s launched a major effort to verify the names and addresses and found that persons who wrote the letters do not live at the addresses claimed. This writer has at least 35 such letters in her possession and most of them pertain to SEBI’s slow reactions to the massive listing day price manipulation of newly listed or re-listed companies.
Interestingly, the appointment of Executive Directors under Chairman M.Damodaran has never been smooth sailing and has often drawn the ire of its board of directors. In fact, the SEBI board finally cleared the appointment of two Executive Directors just a few weeks ago after a stand-off that lasted over a year in one specific case. Even here, informed sources say that the board only cleared the appointments because they the EDs in question were appointed on contract and the normal service rules would not “technically” apply.
The two appointments cleared recently included, 33-year old Sandeep Parekh, who came in as Officer on Special Duty at the level of Executive Director and heads the legal section. The second was R.K.Nair who came in from Corporation Bank.
Meanwhile, SEBI is on a hiring spree and has taken in over 60 new officials who are currently being trained at Pune.
After lobbying hard to ensure the continuance of Mr.Ravinchandran at SEBI, the market regulator released him within a day after this piece was posted, says SEBI insiders.