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Friday, April 24, 2009
PR INDUSTRY IS ON STAKE THIS TIME
Sebi bans Pyramid Saimira promoters
Mail Today Bureau
Mumbai, April 24, 2009

Stock markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Thursday barred the promoter- chairman of entertainment chain Pyramid Saimira Theatres, P.S. Saminathan, and four others from the securities market for forgery, disseminating false information and manipulating the share price of the company. Those barred include Nirmal N.

Kotecha, listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) as a promoter of the company, Rakesh Sharma, a public relations executive with PR agency Adfactors, Rajesh Unnikrishnan, a journalist with financial daily The Economic Times, and one Pratheesh Kumar V.K.

Besides these, 16 individuals and 232 other entities were also banned from participating in any form of share transactions till further notice, for their involvement in the scam, which caused huge fluctuations in Pyramid Saimira's share price in December last year. K.M. Abraham, whole-time member of Sebi, said it was necessary to intervene immediately, "in view of the grave emergency arising out of the fact that a forged letter (purported to have been issued by Sebi) was sent."

He passed an ad-interim, exparte order, "taking into consideration the fraudulent, abusive, manipulative and illegal activities committed by certain entities/ persons to the detriment of genuine investors and adversely affecting the integrity of the securities market."

Sebi has identified the other three entities and 16 persons - as those related to/ associated with Kotecha - are prima facie found to have played a key role in facilitating Kotecha by funnelling money to fund the transactions, as well as helping Kotecha to disguise " his manipulative intent". The order pertained to a forged letter, purportedly from Sebi to Saminathan, allegedly ordering him to make an open offer under the Sebi takeover regulations for an additional 20 per cent stake, at a price not less than Rs 250 per share.

The letter was sent to various media organizations with the help of Sharma and Unnikrishnan.

Sebi's extensive investigations included tracking the mobile phone records of the gang, which established that they had met and plotted the release of the fake letter, which led to a surge in the company's share price, before an official denial sent the price tumbling again later the same day.

Kotecha dumped lakhs of shares during this period and has, in fact, completely exited the company since then. The PR executive, Sharma, had even given the mobile number of an associate as the alleged contact number of Pyramid's company secretary.

Reporters who called that number were told that the company had indeed received a letter from Sebi.

This led to many a number of media reports which sent the share price up.
Interestingly, the publishers of The Economic Times, Bennett, Coleman and Company, were also listed as holding 1.77 per cent stake in Pyramid Saimira as of December, 2008 although the exhaustive investigation report made it clear that the reporter was acting in his individual capacity.

Nirmal Kotecha, who is one of the promoters or associates of PSTL holding 12.92 per cent stake, was identified as the beneficiary of the forgery. Kotecha was also found to be using a large number of front accounts including his related persons/ entities to manipulate the securities market and to route the funds through several layers and this prima facie appears to be a money laundering activity.

Sebi has also prohibited Keynote Capital Ltd, a Sebi registered stock broker, from giving recommendations in respect of companies listed in any of the recognised stock exchanges till further orders. It also asked two brokers, India Capital Markets Pvt Ltd and Dynamic Stock Broking (I) Pvt Ltd, from entering into fresh agreements with new clients till further orders.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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