The case pertains to the alleged tapping of the phones of executives of the stock market
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a charge sheet against former Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Pandey and former NSE CEOs Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna and other top executives of the bourse in connection with the alleged tapping of phones of executives of the stock market, officials said Friday. Enforcement Directorate also registered case of illegal phone tapping. Chitra Ramkrishna who is currently in jail for the past nine months is also the main accused in the Co-location scam involving rigging the stock prices by supplying advance information to a select set of people. Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna are considered very close to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
The CBI, in its charge sheet filed before a special court in Delhi, said that National Stock Exchange (NSE) had paid Rs.4.54 crore (approx) in 8 years to ISEC Services Pvt Ltd, where Pandey was a director, for carrying out illegal interception of phones at the bourse employees in the name of cyber vulnerability study, they said.
“It was alleged that unauthorized recording and monitoring of personal call lines in NSE started in 1997 when then MD (Ravi Narain) and then DMD/ MD (Ramkrishna) of NSE connected call lines of NSE employees to a digital voice recorder provided by a private company,” said CBI spokesperson. The agency has named Pandey, two former executives of the accused company, former top executives of NSE including managing director Ravi Narain, deputy managing director Ramkrishna, executive vice president Ravi Varanasi, head (premises) Mahesh Haldipur, group operating officer Anand Subramanian (also co-accused with his boss Chitra in Co-Location scam), the officer on special duty S B Thosar, and manager (premises) Bhupesh Mistry.
The agency has accused them under charges of criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence, criminal breach of trust, provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, and Prevention of Corruption Act, they said. The CBI had taken up the case on July 7, 2022, based on the inputs received during the probe of the Co-location scam in NSE that ISEC Services were illegally tapping landline phones of NSE employees, they said.
According to CBI, the illegal interception started in 1997 when Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna connected NSE employees’ call lines to a digital voice recorder provided by a private company. Chitra Ramkrishna supervised the illegal activity for nearly 12 years with the help of other accused NSE executives, said CBI.
In 2009, the monitoring of calls were handed over to ISEC, where Pandey (those days Sanjay Pandey left IPS and later again resumed in IPS) was a director. “To maintain secrecy, the work order was allegedly issued to a said private company in the name of ‘conducting a periodic study of cyber vulnerabilities’,” the official said.
The company installed a high-end apparatus in 2012 in NSE’s basement, capable of recording 120 calls simultaneously. “The employees of a said private company was given unauthorized access to NSE premises to listen to these calls and submit weekly reports to NSE officials-then executive vice president and then head (premises),” the spokesperson said.
The reports, in turn, were being shown to Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna regularly, they said, adding that the contract of ISEC was getting renewed annually during 2009-17. “It was found during the investigation that an accused (Pandey) working as a Police officer was allegedly managing the affairs of said company. The NSE ended up paying Rs.4.54 crore (approx.) in 8 years to said private company for carrying out such illegal interception of NSE employees in the name of cyber vulnerability study,” he said.
The call records of hundreds of NSE employees were allegedly kept in the custody of said private company, and the entire interception was done without the knowledge or consent of the NSE board, NSE employees, CBI has alleged.
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