New Delhi: A former board member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India has spoken about the threat being faced by him and his family, according to a report in a national daily. The reason: a letter written by KM Abraham to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in which he complained about Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, his advisor Omita Paul and SEBI chairman UK Sinha, has been leaked.
The letter was forwarded to the Finance Ministry by the Prime Minister’s Office, thereby revealing Abraham’s identity.
Abraham is a 1982 batch IAS Kerala-cadre officer. His term in the stock market regulator came to an end on July 20.
In a letter sent on June 1, Abraham had complained to the PM that Mukherjee and Paul were trying to undermine the stock market regulator’s independence by pressurising Sinha to “manage” several cases involving high-profile corporate houses.
The enforcement cases in question include those against Sahara, Reliance Industries Ltd and ADAG companies, Bank of Rajasthan and MCX-SX, a new stock exchange that at present offers trading facilities in currency derivatives.
“While reviewing these cases in his three months as Chairman SEBI, Shri UK Sinha has directly or indirectly, referred to how these cases are sensitive and are engaging the attention of the Union Minister for Finance or Smt Omita Paul, Advisor to the Finance Minister,” Abraham alleged, in an extract of the letter published by the newspaper today.
Sinha had joined as SEBI chairman this February, replacing CB Bhave.
According to the report, the PMO had forwarded the letter to R Gopalan, Economic Affairs Secretary in the Finance Ministry, a fortnight after receiving the same.
Angry at the PMO move, Abraham shot off another letter to the PM on June 24.
“I couldn’t have gone to the Finance Minister who (as UK Sinha disclosed) had conveyed his interest in a few cases in SEBI to the chairman personally. Giving a copy of my letter that bears specific references to corporate houses, to the Finance Ministry, under the present circumstances can have the unintended consequence of exposing our lives and safety to grave risks,” he complained.
The newspaper tried to contact the persons in question. While Sinha failed to respond to the request, Paul told the daily: “I do not know Abraham. I have never spoken to him. The Finance Ministry has sent its response on the issue to the PMO, the Department of Personnel and Training and the Central Vigilance Commissioner.”
The daily was asked by Paul to contact a Finance Ministry official, who claimed that Abraham was trying to deviate attention against him by raking up these issues.
Abraham had bought a flat in Mumbai, in a complex where the National Stock Exchange had purchased space for commercial use. NSE is regulated by SEBI and this raised questions about conflict of interest.
The official claimed Abraham was probably upset with the ministry for not extending his tenure by another two years, and also because the new SEBI chairman failed to clear a file relating to his appointment as Director in the National Institute of Securities Market. Abraham was the only candidate shortlisted by a search committee set up during ex-chairman Bhave’s tenure.