Sebi seeks Tata firms' explanations on alleged irregularities

Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has asked some listed Tata firms to furnish detailed explanations regarding alleged violations of corporate governance and insider trading norms pointed out by ousted directors Cyrus Mistry and Nusli Wadia.

The fresh queries from the market watchdog come after receipt of letters from Mistry, who was ousted as chairman of the over $100 billion conglomerate, as also from Wadia who too had been removed as independent director from various Tata firms.

The regulator had also asked a number of listed Tata firms to offer specific details and explanation on allegations levelled by Mistry and Wadia that sparked a bitter boardroom battle at the conglomerate that led to the ouster of former chairman, according to a senior official.

However, the ongoing investigations, which included the details submitted by various listed Tata companies in reply to clarifications sought through stock exchanges, had so far not shown any serious violation of prescribed listing rules, he said. He added that the investigations were yet to be completed and nothing could be conclusively said about the outcome at the moment. Incidentally, Sebi had last week come out with a detailed guidance note for evaluation of boards of listed companies, including the role of independent directors, in order to provide more clarity for stakeholders.

Meanwhile, according to The Economic Times, the rift between chairman of the Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata and ousted Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry started as far back as 2013, according to an affidavit filed by Tata before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

Business Standard had earlier reported that Mistry had taken the legal route in his fight against the Tatas and had filed a lawsuit in NCLT against Tata Sons in late December. Sources said Mistry's family-controlled investment firms in Mumbai had filed a petition against Tata Sons alleging oppression of minority shareholders and mismanagement of Tata Sons under Section 241 of the Companies Act.