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Cyberspace scam kingpin let off with a warning

Mumbai, May 20: This watchdog often barks, but rarely bites.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has let off a kingpin in the Cyberspace Infosys price-rigging case that hounded former Unit Trust of India chief P. S. Subramaniam out of office, with a mild rebuke.

After G. . Bajpai took over as chairman, the market regulator has been handing out orders by the dozen in a year when the dye was cast on 561 verdicts. Of these, penal actions were 393; directions added up to 168. Lawyers aren’t sure how many of these were strict penalties.

Amid the torrent of rulings, investigations into Cyberspace (formerly known as Cyberspace Infosys) share deals put Prabodh Artha Sanchay Private Ltd in the dock.

“It was found that Ms Prabodh Artha Sanchay was acting in concert with Arvind Johari to support the price and create an artificial market in the scrip,” Sebi said. A show-cause notice and a written reply from Prabodh Artha Sanchay, followed by a personal hearing before Bajpai, convinced Sebi that a warning would suffice.

“The board, after considering all the relevant facts of the case and vide its order dated May 13, 2003, directed Prabodh Artha Sanchay to be careful in future while trading in the aforesaid manner,” Sebi said.

UTI had acquired 3.45 lakh shares for Rs 32.8 crore in Lucknow-based Cyberspace Ltd through a private placement. The mutual fund major had bought the shares after taking into consideration the market price.

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