Advance info, stock suggestions, profit: How experts on Zee Business ‘fraudulently induced viewers’

According to a SEBI order, 15 entities made ‘unlawful gains’ to the tune of Rs 7.41 crore.

WrittenBy:Tanishka Sodhi
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Five guest experts on Zee Business are part of a list of 15 entities fined Rs 7.41 crore by the Securities and Exchange Board of India for “misleading” investors to “take positions in securities” and letting others “make profit”.

For example, the husband of one of the experts made profits from the investments viewers made after being influenced by the show’s suggestions, according to an interim order by SEBI on Thursday.

Listing these five experts along with 10 other entities categorised as “enablers” and “profit makers”, the order said they made unlawful gains to the tune of Rs 7.41 crore from the “pockets of innocent investors who follow the advice of guest experts unaware of the fraudulent scheme”.  Besides the fine, they have been restrained from buying, selling, or dealing in securities until further orders.

The five guest experts include Kiran Jadhav, Ashish Kelkar, Himanshu Gupta, Mudit Goyal, and Sim Bhaumik. Jadhav and Kelkar, both SEBI-registered analysts, provided stock recommendations on Zee Business under the tagline “Kiran ka kamal.” Meanwhile, two other SEBI-registered analysts, Bhaumik and Goyal, provided recommendations on the channel under the tagline “Simi ke non stop shares,” and “Mudit ke Munafe,” respectively. Gupta, a research professional, gave stock recommendations on the channel under the tagline “Hitman Himanshu”. 

They featured on the channel between February 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. 

SEBI noted that these were not “ordinary influencers” issuing stock recommendations, but all of them had some expertise “which led Zee Business to invite them on its shows”. They “fraudulently induced viewers of their show to deal in securities with the objective of enhancing their income”, noted SEBI. 

But how did they do it?

The SEBI order detailed how the involved entities devised a scheme where before making recommendations on Zee Business, the guests would communicate the information among each other and with the profitmakers. These companies would then engage in executing the first leg of the trade just before the recommendation was aired, and close the position with the second leg of the transaction, making profits.

SEBI noted that Bhaumik shared her recommendations with her husband Partha Sarathi Dhar, before recommending the same on Zee Business. Dhar’s trading influences were significantly influenced by the advance information provided by Bhaumik, noted SEBI.

The market regulator also said that this profit was prima facie unlawful since they had advance information about the impending recommendation in an unfair manner. This information was used to make profit by trading on the basis of it, knowing that investors would act on the recommendations and the price and volume would move in the expected direction, enabling them to make profit.

The “unfair gains” earned by the profit makers were also shared with guest experts. 

As per the order, there was also evidence of  market abuse and weakening of market integrity since there was “no free and open access to information”. Such practices, it said, “shake investors’ confidence in the stock market and interfere in the operation of ordinary market forces of supply and demand, thereby challenging market integrity”.

The three categories

SEBI placed the 15 entities under three categories. 

The first category included Nirmal Kumar Soni, Partha Sarathi Dhar, SAAR Commodities Private Limited, Manan Sharecom Private Limited, and Kanhya Trading Company,  who were termed the “profit makers” – entities that made profit by executing trade allegedly on the basis of stock recommendations given by guest experts.

The second category included Nitin Chhalani, Rupesh Kumar Matoliya, and Ajaykumar Ramakant Sharma, SAAR securities India limited, and Ramawatar Lalchand Chotia, who were referred to as “enablers” – entities that allegedly aided and assisted the profit makers based on advance information of stock recommendations of guest experts. These “enablers” allegedly provided necessary support and credentials via trading accounts, trading terminals, login IDs, and passwords.

The third category included Kiran Jadhav, Ashish Kelkar,  Himanshu Gupta, Mudit Goyal, and Simi Bhaumik, who were termed “guest experts” – those who appeared on different shows and provided stock recommendations.

“It is necessary for investors to exercise due diligence while listening to such experts on TV or on social media. There are many orders passed by the SEBI which has highlighted how these platforms are used by some of these experts to implement fraudulent and unfair schemes like front running, pump and dump,” read a portion of the order. 

The order also advised Zee Media Corporation to preserve and maintain all records, documents, material, and video records along with their content, until the final order was passed.

This report was published with AI assistance.

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