SAT refuses relief to banks, sends them back to Sebi

SAT refuses relief to banks, sends them back to Sebi

The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Wednesday refused any immediate relief to top lenders who challenged the transfer of securities held with...

Mumbai: The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) on Wednesday refused any immediate relief to top lenders who challenged the transfer of securities held with Karvy Stock Broking back to the clients or transfer them into an escrow account.

ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and IndusInd Bank had contended that many of these securities had been used to borrow money from them and had pleaded with the tribunal to either get back the securities back to them or put them in an escrow account to protect their funds.

The case pertains to the securities held by Karvy, which were used by the brokerage for borrowing courtesy the power of attorneys that they held. The securities held by over 83,000 clients were given back to them on Monday after Sebi asked NSDL to do so, forcing Bajaj Finance to move the SAT and secure an interim relief on further transfers.

The NSDL move helped 90 per cent of the Karvy demat accountholders get back their shares bought on borrowed money from these lenders. These private sector banks joined the Bajaj Finance petition on Tuesday and there was a lengthy hearing.

On November 22, Sebi barred Karvy from taking new brokerage clients and also prevented it from using the power of attorneys (PoAs) given by its clients after the brokerage was found to have allegedly misused clients' securities.

On Wednesday, SAT bench comprising MT Joshi and CKG Nair refused to give any relief to the lenders beyond the order in the Bajaj Finance plea and instead asked them to approach Sebi by December 6.

SAT also Sebi whole-time member (Ananta Barua who issued the order against Karvy on November 22) to give a personal hearing to the aggrieved parties and pass an order by December 12. In the Bajaj Finance case, SAT had on Tuesday had asked Sebi to hear the financier latest by Wednesday and directed Sebi to pass a fresh order by December 10.

On these banks' specific request for either getting back the securities which have been given out as loans or at least freezing them till a decision is reached, the SAT maintained that such a plea is "untenable" as the securities are already with the clients.

Legal sources on Wednesday said the combined value of the loans given out by the petitioning lenders using the securities which were with Karvy is Rs 1,400 crore, while the total value of the securities at the time of the transfer was Rs 2,800 crore.

They clarified that it will be inappropriate to say that the loan to value ratio is 50 per cent because Rs 1,400 crore is the combined value of loans made out by different lenders and the underlying securities may also be carrying of different risk perception.

During the course of the arguments on Tuesday, a counsel for HDFC Bank had said it has an exposure of Rs 300 crore to such loans, while the value of the securities against which the loans were made is Rs 470 crore, while Bajaj Finance's exposure is Rs 312 crore.

The lenders had collectively said that the NSDL decision following a Sebi direction on Monday, can put the entire loans against securities business in a quandary if the underlying security will no longer be available to be invoked. The NSDL counsel had told SAT that the decision was taken by its board and also cited a June 19 order by Sebi which barred them from taking such securities.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Sebi chief Ajay Tyagi had declined to comment on the matter saying the matter is sub-judice. He, however, said whatever the SAT will order will be "valid and acceptable to all".

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