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SEBI bans Securekloud Technologies Ltd and 3 others for malpractice

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has released an order barring Securekloud Technologies Ltd, and three other individuals from taking part in the securities market.

Securekloud Technologies Ltd, a Chennai based IT service provider, and Suresh Venkatachari, R S Ramani, Gurumurthi Jayaraman are facing investigations from various regulators and authorities on the allegations that they manipulated financial statements of the company along with siphoning off the funds.

According to the order released by SEBI, the market regulator investigated the financial statements and transactions that happened in the company during the period of 2017-18 and 2020-21.

Ashwani Bhatia, who is a whole-time member of SEBI, stated in the order that there was enough prima facie evidence to come to the conclusion that the financial statements were highly manipulated by the company. In order to lure investors to buy the shares of the company, it manipulated its books of accounts in a large amount and published cooked-up financial statements.

Suresh Venkatachari, who is a director in the company since 2010, along with R S Ramani, sold stocks owned by them, in a large quantity, between 2017-18 and 2018-19. This can be analysed by the decrease in shareholding by the promoted and promoter group. During the period, the shareholding of the promoter group fell from 63.41% to 38.20%.

SEBI said in its order that the shares were either sold or transferred by Suresh Venkatachari and R S Ramani to other individuals. Those people were lured into buying the shares using fudged financial statements and books of accounts which were constructed by the company. SEBI also looks at the possibility that the shares were sold to others at a time when the share price of the company was at its highest point.

SEBI also noted that the shareholding pattern of promoter and promoter group increased to 43.52% by June 30th 2022. It is highly probable that the shares were purchased back at a price lesser than what was sold before during the 2017-19 period.

The actions of Suresh Venkatachari and R S Raman, for personal and financial gains, caused losses for the investors who bought the shares without knowing about manipulation in the financial statement. Along with that, siphoning off funds of nearly 3.83 crore Indian rupees, was in violation of various security laws.

SEBI also stated in its ban order that Gurumurthi Jayaraman, who was chairman of the audit committee in Securekloud Technologies Ltd, was fully aware of the manipulations and malpractices conducted by the top management of the committee. According to disclosure norms, the chairman of the audit committee is required to inform authorities and regulators regarding any illegal financial activities happening at the firm.

Instead of performing his duties, Gurumurthi Jayaraman stood silently and aided all the malpractices which were being conducted.

Other than a ban from the securities market, the 76-page order issued by SEBI also barred the three individuals from being directors in any listed company and or any public company which is planning to raise capital from the public.

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