The Supreme Court-appointed committee headed by retired judge A.M. Sapre probing the Adani-Hindenburg controversy said taking into account explanations provided by Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India), supported by empirical data, prima facie, it would not be possible for the committee to conclude there has been a regulatory failure around the allegation of price.
The committee said Sebi has also found that some entities have taken short positions prior to the publication of the Hindenburg report and have profited from squaring off their positions after the price crashed upon publication of the report.
The committee noted that it was submitted by Sebi that while the price of shares of Adani Enterprises Ltd. (AEL) rose, no evident pattern of manipulative contribution to price rise could be attributed to any single entity or group of connected entities. The committee said it is apparent that Sebi was actively engaged with developments and price movements in the market.
"It would not be possible to return a finding of regulatory failure...since SEBI has an active and working surveillance framework to take notice of high price and volume movements and has applied itself to the data generated by such surveillance, applying objective criteria, to consider if the integrity of the natural price discovery process has been manipulated," noted the committee.
The report said in the case of the Adani stocks, 849 alerts were generated by the system, and were considered by stock exchanges resulting in four reports to Sebi two well prior to the Hindenburg Report and two after January 24, 2023.
"In all the four reports, the stock exchanges considered the factors...and prima facie, found no evidence of any artificiality to the price rise and did not find material to attribute the rise to any single entity or group of connected entities," said the report.
The committee said Sebi has explained the analysis done, taking the example of Adani Enterprises Ltd., breaking the trading data into four "patches" (periods of time) where the stock price rose significantly.
The committee said in a nutshell, no pattern of artificial trading or "wash trades" among the same parties' multiple times was found. "In one of the patches where the price rose, the FPIS under investigation were net sellers. One investing entity that had purchased across the patches had purchased far more of other securities. In a nutshell, there was no coherent pattern of abusive trading that has come to light," it said.
On March 2 this year, the apex court constituted the expert committee headed by Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre, a former judge of the Supreme Court, and comprising: O.P. Bhatt, Justice J.P. Devadhar (retired), K.V. Kamath, Nandan Nilekani, and advocate Somashekhar Sundaresan.
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