SEBI seeks powers to scan phone, email records

Stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India has sought powers to seek e-mail and call records from telecom service providers.

SEBI feels this will help it prevent black money from entering the telecom market, and to keep an eye on insider trading, reports The Hindu Business Line.

Minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena told the Lok Sabha in a written reply on 12 August that SEBI also wants to be in the list of law enforcement / investigating agencies allowed such intercepts, which includes the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Bureau. A formal request has been sent to the department of telecommunications.

Though getting call records from the phone service providers may not be difficult, tracking e-mail records could be.

Most e-mail service providers such as Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail have servers based outside India. Even the security agencies have been unable to get access to these services so far.

Sources told the paper that by tracking e-mail and phone call records, SEBI can check 'circular money', or money owned by Indians that is routed back to the country via tax havens to avoid paying taxes. It is feared that some of the funds coming into the markets via sub-accounts are 'circular money'.