The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has barred CNBC Awaaz anchor Pradeep Pandya, market expert Alpesh Furiya and four others till further orders, for fraudulent and unfair trade practices in the securities market. SEBI has also ordered impounding of gains of about Rs8.4 crore made by these six entities in their fraudulent deals. This is not the first time that star anchors on CNBC Awaaz have been caught by the market regulator for unfair trades. In January this year, SEBI had barred another anchor, Hemant Ghai and his family members in an interim order, which was confirmed in September 2021
In an interim order against Pradeep Pandya, SEBI’s whole-time member (WTM) Madhabi Puri Buch says, "There is a repeated pattern of such fraudulent and unfair trading activity being carried out by these entities. The directions are preventive in nature as Mr Pandya has the potential, in view of his association with the media channels, to possibly be part of other shows, channels and media giving recommendations or contributing to any activities related to the securities market. Mr Pandya and Alpesh Furiya have also appeared on a show hosted by the spouse of Mr Pandya."
Others barred by SEBI include Manish Furiya, Alpa Furiya, Alpesh Furiya Hindu undivided family (HUF) and Manish Furiya HUF.
Mr Furiya was found to be trading in shares that the anchor used to recommend in the programmes ahead of its telecast. This made him play with the stocks based on advanced information.
On 10 December 2020, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) sent an analytical report to SEBI, which prima facie observed that there was a strong correlation of trades executed by Mr Furiya and four connected entities with the recommendations provided by Mr Pandya on his show Pandya Ka Funda on CNBC Awaaz.
The market regulator conducted a preliminary examination for the trades of these entities only in NSE's cash segment from 1 November 2019 till 13 January 2021. The nature of their trading activity in NSE's derivatives segment and BSE's cash segment is under examination at different stages.
Further, SEBI says, the recommendations considered in the extant order have been obtained through a web-search, which was undertaken on a best-effort basis to gather videos containing recommendations made by Mr Pandya from secondary sources like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. There may be more such recommendations made by Mr Pandya, details of which will be available with CNBC, it added.
Mr Pandya hosted or co-hosted various shows on CNBC Awaaz and gave stock recommendations using the tagline "Pandya ka Funda". He hosted or co-hosted shows such as 'Pehla Sauda' (8:55am on weekdays), 'Aakhri Sauda' (1:55pm/ 2:27pm on weekdays), '10 Ke Dumdaar Trade; (9:57am).
As per details available in the public domain like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, SEBI says, Mr Pandya was also giving derivatives recommendations with the tagline 'Sasta Option'.
The WTM of SEBI also 'advised' CNBV Awaaz to preserve and maintain all records, documents, material, and video records, along with their content, related to Mr Pandya and Mr Furiya and concerned shows until the investigation is complete.
SEBI says it is keeping a close watch on all media outlets through sophisticated machine learning technology to ensure that they do not indulge in any fraudulent activity.
Mr Furiya and four connected entities executed a repeated and consistent pattern of trading, which was in synchronisation with the recommendations made by Mr Pandya on his shows, SEBI alleged.
During the investigation, the market regulator observed that for buy today sell tomorrow (BTST) trades, there is a repeated and consistent pattern of buying shares on the previous day of the buy recommendations made on the show hosted or co-hosted by Mr Pandya and selling the same around the telecast of the buy recommendations.
Similarly, for intra-day trades, there is a repeated and consistent pattern of buying shares prior to telecast of the recommendation on the show hosted or co-hosted by Mr Pandya and selling the same around the telecast the buy recommendations. By their trading activity, Mr Furiya and connected entities also have, prima facie, contributed to the increased investor interest in the scrips on which buy recommendation was going to be given, it added.