In its biggest ever crackdown for suspected tax evasion and laundering of black money through stock trading platforms, Sebi today barred 260 entities, including individuals and companies, from the securities markets.
It has also asked stock exchanges and the depositories to ensure that all its directions are strictly enforced.
While 152 entities have been barred in one case relating to an entity named First Financial Services Ltd, another 108 entities have faced the action in a case related to Radford Global Limited.
The action comes at a time when the government has sharpened its focus on unearthing black money stashed abroad and within the country, while Sebi also recently tightened its surveillance of shell companies created solely for the purpose of tax evasion or money laundering activities.
In the first case, the suspected dealings took place on the stock market for almost two years till March 31, 2014, while the second case relates to a period of little more than a year starting January 2013.
In its orders, Sebi said that the modus operandi of the barred entities typically involved stock market dealings aimed at evading long-term capital gains tax and showing the source of income as legitimate from stock markets.
"... the schemes, plan, device and artifice employed in this case, apart from being a possible case of money laundering or tax evasion which could be seen by the concerned law enforcement agencies separately, is prima facie also a fraud in the securities market in as much as it involves manipulative transactions in securities and misuse of the securities market," the regulator said.
In the First Financial case, the debarred entities include this company itself, its seven promoters and directors, 80 'preferential allottees', 57 First Financial Group entities, as also seven others suspected to be related entities.
With regard to Radford case, Sebi has barred the company, four directors, one promoter entity, two directors of a group firm, 49 preferential allottees, 39 Radford Group entities, five 'suspected entities' and seven others.
Sebi found a typical pattern in trading of shares of these companies. First shares were allotted on preferential basis to certain connected entities, price would be pushed higher without any fundamental move, followed by an exit being given to these investors and the shares would be sold back to the company or related entities raking in huge profits.
While overall gains made by all 260 entities could not be ascertained, a batch of 46 allottees in Radford case made a collective profit of Rs 313.01 crore on a total investment of just Rs 12.99 crore, thus getting a return of 2309 per cent in a period of 18 months.