Phone tapping case: ED gets 4-day custody of ex-NSE MD Chitra Ramkrishna
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday filed a money laundering complaint against ex-Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey and former NSE top bosses Chitra Ramkrishna and Ravi Narain in connection with the illegal phone tapping case of the stock exchange employees. Chitra Ramkrishna, already in prison since March in CBI’s Co-location scam was arrested by ED on Thursday and sent to the agency’s custody for four days for interrogation in the phone tapping case.
The ED filed the fresh case under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), a week after the CBI booked them. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had alleged that Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna, both former chief executives of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), had roped in a company founded by retired IPS officer Pandey to snoop on the stock market employees by illegally intercepting their phones calls.
The CBI said in its complaint that during the period 2009-17, Ravi Narain, Chitra Ramkrishna, and top NSE officials Ravi Varanasi and Mahesh Haldipur conspired to illegally intercept the telephones of NSE employees for which they hired iSEC Services Pvt Ltd, founded by Sanjay Pandey in 2011. Pandey had incorporated the company after resigning from service but his resignation was not accepted and he continued in service. He retired as Mumbai Police Commissioner on June 30 and was DGP of Maharashtra.
The company iSEC Services Private Limited received a payment of Rs.4.45 crore for illegal tapping which was camouflaged as “Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities” at the NSE. The company also provided transcripts of the tapped conversations to senior management of the stock market, said CBI.
“…Top officials of NSE issued agreement and work orders in favour of the said private company and illegally intercepted the phone calls of its employees by installing machines, in contravention of provisions under Indian Telegraph Act,” a statement from the CBI said. Officials said the interception was stopped in 2019, months after the CBI started probing the NSE co-location scam in 2018, and the machines and other infrastructure used for interception were disposed of as e-waste by the bourse.
Sanjay Pandey was questioned by ED on July 5. The agency discovered secret phone surveillance while probing the financial irregularities at the NSE following which it reported it to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which asked the CBI to probe the charges, officials said. The fraud relates to the manipulation of the stock market through electronic contrivances.
The CBI also conducted raids last week in the phone tapping case and claimed to have recovered original transcripts, raid server, voice samples, two laptops containing evidence related to interception, and bills generated for services rendered by iSEC, among others, from the company premises. They had said four MTNL lines used by NSE employees having a capacity for 120 calls at a time were under the scanner.
The CBI has also listed as accused the then directors of iSEC Services Pvt Ltd Santosh Pandey, Anand Narayan, Armaan Pandey, Manish Mittal, former Senior Information Security Analyst Naman Chaturvedi and Arun Kumar Singh. The company had done the safety audit around the time the co-location scam took place.
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