NEW DELHI (AP) — The former chief of India’s largest stock exchange was fined nearly $400,000 after a probe found she had shared confidential information with an unnamed guru who regulators say influenced her decision-making.
Chitra Ramkrishna sought advice from a yogi for around 20 years, including during her 2013-2016 tenure as the head of the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE), the Securities and Exchange Board of India said in a report released on Friday.
The regulators said their investigation found Ramkrishna allegedly disclosed sensitive information such as financial data, projections, day-to-day operations, board meeting agendas, employee appraisals and high-profile appointments.
Ramkrishna left the NSE in 2016, citing personal reasons.
Apart from the fine, regulators banned Ramkrishna from working in any stock exchange for three years. The Securities and Exchange Board also fined the bourse $264,000 and penalized three other senior officials for breaching securities contract rules.
The sharing of such confidential details is “a glaring, if not unimaginable, act that could shake the very foundations of the stock exchange,” the regulators said.
Ramkrishna was among five financial experts who helped set up India's bourse in the 1990s and was its first woman chief executive officer.
The Securities and Exchange Board said she had described the guru as a “spiritual force that could manifest itself anywhere it wanted and did not have any physical or locational co-ordinates" but “largely dwelt in the Himalayan ranges.”
The report on the investigation included some email exchanges between Ramkrishna and her guru and said she had not denied that she had sent such emails, suggesting that the anonymous person was running the exchange while Ramkrishna “was merely a puppet in his hands.”
Ramkrishna defended herself by telling investigators there was no evidence her consultations with the guru had caused losses or other damage to the bourse or investors.
“As we know, senior leaders often seek informal counsel from coaches, mentors or other seniors in this industry which are all purely informal in nature. In a similar strain I felt that this guidance would help me perform my role better,” she said in comments included in the report.