New Delhi: The government is making an arrangement for market regulator SEBI getting access to call data records of people being probed by it in specific cases, but it will not get power to directly tap the phone calls, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said.
"... Some arrangement is being made that the call data records will be supplied through the agencies entitled to get them to SEBI," Chidambaram said in an interview.
"They (SEBI) won't have the power to directly tap into the phone calls. Records can be made available to them by the authorities concerned. Some progress is being made," he said.
He was replying to queries about SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) seeking access to call data records of people being investigated by it in cases related to the stock markets.
Asked about intelligence reports of some terror groups pumping in money in the stock market, Chidambaram said he was sure that SEBI would look into the matter if tainted money was flowing into the stock market.
Observing that the matter falls into the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry, Chidambaram said: "I can't conduct an enquiry into terror groups putting money into the stock market. If tainted money is flowing into the stock market, I'm sure SEBI will look into it. Intelligence reports are shared with SEBI also. I've no machinery to look into it, except SEBI."
On SEBI's demand for access to call data records, Chidambaram said: "I think some progress was made to make available to SEBI the call data records in specific cases, where an investigation is being done and they want call data records (for their investigation), I think some progress is being made, some arrangement is being made..."
SEBI Chairman U K Sinha had last month said that the market regulator has asked the government to provide it access to call data records of those suspected to have violated insider trading and other norms in the securities market.
Talking about comparison with insider trading cases in the US, such as the one involving Indian-origin banker Rajat Gupta, Sinha had said that investigation tools available with the American regulators are much more different.
"On the issue of tools for investigations, the case that you have cited, you know the methods that were used to crack that case," Sinha said, referring to the phone call records of people in the insider trading case involving Rajat Gupta.
"But, here we do not have access to the transcript of any communication between two persons. We are not getting even the call data records to establish that two persons have been talking to each other frequently and they are working together in insider trading cases.
"We have made a request to the government and they have assured us about it. We are hoping that it will happen soon, but so far it has not happened," Sinha had said.
To strengthen its investigation process and check any delay in prosecution of those found to be involved in frauds and other offences, Sinha had said, SEBI has also asked the government to set up special courts and provide it with stronger recovery powers by amending the SEBI Act.
Asked about these demands, Chidambaram said he was yet to come across any proposal to amend the SEBI Act.
I've not yet seen any proposal to amend the SEBI Act.... May be there is a proposal with the Capital Markets division," he said, while adding that all proposals do not come directly to him at the Finance Ministry.
"This is a huge ministry. Every proposal that comes to the ministry will not come to me in the first place. It will only come to me only after some time. Or, it will come to me when I review it periodically, these are pending. I have not yet seen the proposal," he said.
On the need for brining a new central legislation to regulate the collective investment schemes, the Minister said it was probably under discussion.
"But I don't know what is the progress on new legislation for Collective Investment Schemes, perhaps it is under discussion. I am not familiar with the stage," he said.