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Sebi bars 260 entities from mkt; suspects money laundering

In its biggest ever crackdown for suspected tax evasion and laundering of black money through stock trading platforms, Sebi today barred 260 entities, including individuals and companies, from the securities markets.

While Sebi would further probe these cases, it has also decided to refer the matter to the Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, Financial Intelligence Unit, among other agencies, for necessary actions on their part.

Through two separate interim orders, Sebi said that these 260 entities would be restrained from accessing the securities market and from buying, selling or dealing in securities, either directly or indirectly, with immediate effect till further directions.

It has also asked stock exchanges and the depositories to ensure that all its directions are strictly enforced.

While 152 entities have been barred in one case relating to an entity named First Financial Services Ltd, another 108 entities have faced the action in a case related to Radford Global Limited.

The action comes at a time when the government has sharpened its focus on unearthing black money stashed abroad and within the country, while Sebi also recently tightened its surveillance of shell companies created solely for the purpose of tax evasion or money laundering activities.

In the first case, the suspected dealings took place on the stock market for almost two years till March 31, 2014, while the second case relates to a period of little more than a year starting January 2013.

In its orders, Sebi said that the modus operandi of the barred entities typically involved stock market dealings aimed at evading long-term capital gains tax and showing the source of income as legitimate from stock markets.

“… the schemes, plan, device and artifice employed in this case, apart from being a possible case of money laundering or tax evasion which could be seen by the concerned law enforcement agencies separately, is prima facie also a fraud in the securities market in as much as it involves manipulative transactions in securities and misuse of the securities market,” the regulator said.

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