People are check mobile devices whilst standing against an illuminated wall bearing WhatsApp’s logo in this arranged photograph in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

WhatsApp Leaks: SEBI Receives Four Reports, Conducts Further Probe

Market regulator SEBI has received four reports in the matter pertaining to the leak of price-sensitive information of companies through WhatsApp and is carrying out further investigations, chairman Ajay Tyagi said today.

In the high profile case, the Securities and Exchange Board of India has passed preliminary orders against HDFC Bank Ltd., Tata Motors Ltd., Axis Bank Ltd. and Bata India Ltd. These companies were also asked to conduct internal probes and report back to the regulator.

“We have received four reports,” Tyagi said at a press conference. The companies were “asked to do their own internal investigation”, he said, adding that the regulator is examining the reports and doing further investigation.

Soon after the preliminary orders were passed by SEBI, the four companies had said that they would comply with directions from the regulator.

The regulator’s preliminary probe found that the firms’ quarterly financial results were matching with the figures that were in circulation on WhatsApp groups prior to the official announcement.

Around a dozen listed firms are under SEBI’s scanner.

SEBI began a probe in November 2017 after a media report surfaced with respect to circulation of unpublished price sensitive information in various private WhatsApp groups about certain companies before their official announcements.

The regulator had also conducted search and seizure operations in this regard at various places, including on the premises of various market entities.

Those being probed by SEBI include auditors, brokers, analysts and investment advisors, besides the company executives, with whom the financial information was shared before being made public through regulatory disclosure on stock exchanges.

Also read: WhatsApp Leak: SEBI To Soon Take Action Against Market Operators, Company Officials