Sucheta Dalal :IBMA: A broker member a company of NSEL’s promoter FT but appearing as a trade body?
Sucheta Dalal

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IBMA: A broker, member, a company of NSEL’s promoter FT, but appearing as a trade body?  

September 4, 2013

Indian Bullion Markets Association was one the biggest borrowers from the borrowing/lending racket of National Spot Exchange Ltd, amounting to Rs1,159 crores. With a name like that, was this group of company of Financial Technologies, the promoter of NSEL, masquerading as a trade body, lobbying on behalf of the group?

Sucheta Dalal

One of the members very active in scam-ridden NSEL was Indian Bullion Markets Association (IBMA). Contrary to what the name suggests, or what has been claimed by NSEL, IBMA is not a trade association or a lobbying body for industry-related issues. IBMA is yet another FT-MCX group entity which falls foul of the names and emblems statute. But it obviously got the name because of the clout of the FT-MCX group. Since this ‘association’ was an active trader and promoted by the FT group, we had asked Jignesh Shah whether it was a sub-broker of the Exchange. We were told, “IBMA is not a sub-broker but a member of the Exchange (NSEL). It has around 130 bullion dealers and jewellers from across the country as its shareholders. PEC Ltd (formerly Project & Equipment Corporation of India Ltd), a government company, is also its shareholder. It was conceptualised and called an ‘Association’ because it was promoted by NSEL in a cooperative structure along with various stakeholders such as small jewellers and bullion traders, with an aim to work as an aggregator.”

It was lobbying with the ministries of agriculture, consumer affairs and finance. Apparently, these ministries even invited it to be represented on policy-making committees. Is it believable that retired regulators, Union secretaries and other high-ranking bureaucrats on the boards of FT-MCX group companies did not know that a trading member of an exchange was masquerading as an ‘industry association’? It is now disclosed that IBMA was one of the biggest traders with an investment of Rs1,200 crore by 146 shareholders. These investors were clearly lured by the promises of the FT promoters themselves.

All this raises several questions. Were there any Chinese walls between NSEL and IBMA? Did the MCon check or question it? Clearly, the reason why there is no action against NSEL, its promoters or even its sacked employees, is that its tentacles reach far too deep into this government.

-- Sucheta Dalal