The Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has directed Axis Bank to conduct an internal inquiry in the WhatsApp leak case. The inquiry needs to be conducted within a period of 3 months from the date of order and the bank will need to file a report on it within 7 days from the completion of the inquiry.
Moneycontrol had earlier reported that the market regulator had initiated an examination into leakage of price-sensitive information through WhatsApp groups.
SEBI, in a release on Wednesday, said that before its earnings on July 25, 2017, "financial results circulated on the groups were either matching in totality or were close to the actual announcements". The only exception, it said, was the slippage figure as can be seen in the following table:
Source: SEBI notice
SEBI noted that prima facie, the incident could not have happened without leakage from person privy to the financial results. However, it also said that the source of leak couldn’t be ascertained.
"Such leakage is prima facie attributable to the inadequacy of the processes/controls/systems that Axis Bank as a listed company had put in place," market regulator said.
Leakage of unpublished financial results is in contravention of regulation 3(1) and (2) of SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations2015(“PIT Regulations”).
Following the inquiry, SEBI has asked the bank to strengthen its system to ensure that such leak does not happen in future.
SEBI had earlier asked the bank to submit information regarding their Unpublished Price Sensitive Information (UPSI) circulation system.
However, the bank said " it has ensured adherence to the applicable laws and has adopted adequate processes/ controls to maintain confidentiality of price sensitive information relating to the bank."
The bank also submitted details pertaining to preparation of the financial results relating to the quarter under probe. "It was submitted that the process for generation of data started from July 1, 2017 and the financial results were formally disclosed on July 25, 2017," the notice said.