The Supreme Court has issued a notice to CNBC-TV18 financial analyst Mathew Easow, and asked him to disclose his contract with the TV channel after the stock market regular found him advising viewers to buy stocks which his associate companies were selling in the market.
The court has also stayed an appellate tribunal’s order overturning a ban on his media activities.
In April 2006, Easow—a Calcutta-based “chartered accountant with 18 years experience in the capital and financial markets”—had been directed by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to “cease and desist” from recommending any investment in the public media, after finding him guilty of violating regulation 4(2)(f) of the SEBI (prohibition of fraudulent and unfair trade practices relating to securities market) regulation.
Easow successfully appealed against the SEBI order with the Securities Appellate Tribunal which imposed a penalty on the market regular. Challenging the SAT order, SEBI said the tribunal had failed to appreciate that Easow had recommended “a very impressive price appreciation in certain scrips” (between June and December 2005) within a short term, while he himself had sold those very shares on the same day.
Easow had sent six e-mails to TV 18 giving stock advice with buy and sell recommendations regarding four listed companies. The advice had also appeared on the channel’s website moneycontrol.com
While enquiring into the trading pattern of Easow, SEBI found that he had taken an opposite trading pattern to what had been recommended to the investors. “It is axiomatic that a person who recommends others to buy securities must himself be either passive or buy such securities rather than sell them,” the SEBI petition said. “The only circumstance when a person would sell securities after telling lay investors to buy would be a person who is taking advantage of his misleading information in the first place by giving stock tips, thereby inflating the price of the stock and then offloading such securities after the recommendation is aired,” it added.
Only recently, outgoing SEBI chairman M. Damodaran had expressed concern at media figures talking up or talking down the markets.
“When we heard the term anchor-investors first, I thought an anchor investor was the guy that brings in a lot of money initially into a project around whose reputation others invest. I am beginning to believe at the end of my three-year tenure that an anchor investor is one who is an anchor and an investor put together.”
Photograph: courtesy moneycontrol.com