New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on February 9 allowed the bail petition of Chitra Ramakrishna Former Managing Director and CEO of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in a phone-tapping money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The same bench on November 15, 2022, had kept the order reserved after the conclusion of the submissions of both sides. Earlier the Trial court had denied the bail to Chitra Ramkrishna.
The trial Court judge while taking cognisance of a prosecution complaint (Chargesheet) filed by the ED in the case said,” I find the material sufficient to take cognisance. Accordingly, I take cognisance of the offence of Money Laundering punishable under Section 4 of PMLA against all four accused persons.”
“I have carefully gone through the contents of the complaint, the statement of accused persons and witnesses recorded under Section 50 PMLA, and the documents filed along with the complaints. The complaint has been filed through the Assistant Director, Directorate of Enforcement, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, who is the Public Servant. Therefore, an examination of the complainant is not necessary. Accordingly, examination of the complainant is dispensed with,” added the Special Judge of trial court.
On September 9, 2022, the ED filed a chargesheet in Delhi Rouse Avenue Court in connection with the NSE Money Laundering Case.
The chargesheet mentioned the names of Chitra Ramkrishna, Ravi Narain (both are former CEO’s of NSE) and Sanjay Pandey, former Mumbai Police commissioner and a private firm as accused of allegedly tapping the phones of NSE officials and other irregularities.
It has been alleged that illegal phone tapping of NSE employees was done between 2009-17 by M/s iSec service pvt ltd. The telephone monitoring was carried out by NSE through iSec without taking permission from the competent authority as required under Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act as well as without the knowledge or consent of the employees.
According to the ED, all the incoming and outgoing calls made from landline numbers of the employees working in the Market Surveillance Department and other employees who had access to trading data were being monitored by iSec in the name of the Cyber Vulnerability Study.
The payment for this illegal act was also made by NSE to iSec. The machines used for illegal monitoring /interception were sold as e-waste scrap by NSE in the year 2019. During the period between payment of Rs. 4.54 crores were approximately made by NSE to iSec for this work.
Former CEO of NSE, Ravi Narain was arrested by the ED in August 2022 in connection with a money laundering case.
According to the ED, Sanjay Pandey was the founding director of iSec and floated this company in 2001 and was having 50 per cent equity in the company till 2006.
He was also one of its two directors till May 2006 and during the initial meetings for the award of this contract in 2009, he used to visit NSE to represent iSec during these deliberations, NSE was represented by Ravi Narayan (MD), accused Chitra Ramkrishna (DMD), Ravi Varanasi and Mahesh Haldipur Head (Premises), NSE.
Even after he (accused Sanjay Pandey) resigned from the directorship of the company, he was having an advisory role in this company and remained involved in discussions with NSE on behalf of iSec at various stages and the evidence available reveals that he had also conducted meetings with officials of NSE on behalf of iSec.
It is alleged that Sanjay Pandey, the 1986-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who retired from service on June 30, 2022, was aware of the interception/monitoring recording of telephone calls of NSE employees and he used to send periodic reports through some employees of iSec to Ravi Varanasi, the then Head Business Operations, NSE and these reports contained the details of isolated suspicious calls and the transcripts of said calls.
As per ED, top officials of NSE including accused Chitra Ramkrishna conspired with M/s iSec to cheat the NSE and its employees and in furtherance of this criminal conspiracy iSec was hired for illegal interception of the phone calls of NSE employees.
ED says Ravi Narain was occupying the highest position of Managing Director of NSE during the period 2009 to 2013 and he was having knowledge of monitoring of telephone calls of NSE employees. Rather it was he who introduced the accused Sanjay Pandey of iSec Services Pvt. Ltd. to accused Chitra Ramkrishna. He was part of the decision-making process at NSE wherein, it was decided to engage M/s iSec Services Pvt. Ltd. for the said work from 01.01.2009 and got said work done under the garb of Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had recently also registered an FIR in the NSE Co-Location Case over the allegations of phone tapping.
Following the orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case in the alleged NSE co-location scam that involved the phone tapping of NSE employees.
(with inputs from ANI)