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NSEL crisis: Jignesh Shah quits MCX to blunt FMC’s fit & proper notice

Shah's resignation does not insulate FTIL from the accusations or the wrongdoings.

Written by Fe Bureau | Mumbai | Published: October 31, 2013 11:43:38 pm

While Jignesh Shah resigned from the board of Multi-Commodity Exchange (MCX) on Thursday to take the wind out of FMC’s fit & proper show cause notice to him,Financial Technologies India Ltd (FTIL) and others,Forward Markets Commission (FMC) sources said the notice was still valid. FMC sources said the notice was not just given to Shah — and Joseph Massey and Shreekant Javalgekar — but also to FTIL,which is the promoter of NSEL. So,even if the fit & proper notice to Shah in his personal capacity becomes infructuous as FTIL is maintaining,the notice to FTIL remains valid. “Shah’s resignation does not insulate FTIL from the accusations or the wrongdoings,” said a person familiar with the development,adding that were the show cause not followed up,Shah could come back to MCX later.

Shah,who launched MCX in 2003 and made it the second-largest commodity futures bourse globally,resigned from the board of the exchange on Thursday. It was,incidentally,also the last day for Shah,FTIL and others to respond to the FMC show cause notice questioning his fit & proper status.

FTIL,in its 80-page reply to the FMC,has linked Shah’s resignation to the show-cause notice (SCN) issued by the regulator,stating the notice has been rendered “infructuous” since Shah has resigned as FTIL nominee on the board of MCX. Sources at FMC,however,clarified that the notice was sent to FTIL as a separate legal entity and to Shah,Massey and Javalgekar in their respective capacities as directors.

To further support its argument,the reply said Grant Thornton’s forensic audit of NSEL did not find any adverse findings about FTIL. If the fit & proper status is revoked,FTIL would need to exit its 26% holding in MCX.

FTIL’s reply says there is,as yet,no ruling on whether the T+25 contracts were illegal,nor was there anything to show that NSEL’s board members or FTIL were guilty of misconduct. While various agencies including the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing were probing the case,declaring FTIL or others like Shah as not fit & proper would prejudice the investigation.

NSEL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shah’s Financial Technologies (India) (FTIL),which,along with MCX,is also one of the promoter entities of MCX Stock Exchange (MCX-SX). Shah has already resigned from the board of MCX-SX.

In a single-page release,Shah said the ongoing Rs 5,600-crore settlement crisis at the National Spot Exchange (NSEL) had “destroyed everything” and that the loss was not just “financial.” Referring to the board and the management of MCX,Shah hoped they “will do justice to the growth opportunities ahead of them.” I will see the institution grow from a distance for the rest of my life,he added.

Shah,along with other directors of NSEL,is under the scanner of the EOW,which registered a first information report (FIR) on September 30. Last Friday,Shah was questioned by the police for over seven hours.

While Shah has maintained that he was not involved in any of the wrongdoings at NSEL,former senior employees of the exchange who have been arrested by the police,allege that the board of directors including Shah was always aware of the developments leading to the settlement crisis.

Apart from the EOW,the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax (IT) department are also probing the matter. On Thursday,ED searched the offices of Mohan India,which owes the exchange nearly Rs 910 crore and has agreed to pay Rs 771 crore as final settlement.

Down,not yet out

* FTIL says Shah’s resignation makes notice infructuous

* No evidence that FTIL was involved in NSEL crisis

* No ruling as yet on legality of T+25 contracts

* If FTIL declared unfit,it will have to sell its MCX holdings

* Notice valid,promoters must be fit & proper: FMC sources

* Grant Thornton audit shows board aware of wrongdoings

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