The capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on March 03, 2021 issued a circular on Code of Conduct & Institutional Mechanism for prevention of fraud or market abuse by all recognized Stock Exchanges, Clearing Corporations and Depositories.
SEBI has issued this circular pursuant to the report of the Committee on Fair Market Conduct (‘Committee’), set up inter-alia to recommend appropriate Institutional Mechanism to ensure accountability of the management / designated persons in case of negligence / failure, necessary changes have been carried out in SEBI (Prohibition of Insider Trading) Regulations, 2015 (herein after referred as ‘PIT Regulations’).
Based on the above, it has been decided that the Code of Conduct and Institutional Mechanism for prevention of fraud or market abuse shall be applicable to Stock Exchanges, Clearing Corporations and Depositories (herein after collectively referred as ‘MIIs’).
Accordingly, MIIs shall do the following:
- Formulate a Code of Conduct to regulate, monitor and report trading by their designated persons and immediate relative of designated persons towards achieving compliance with the PIT Regulations, by adopting the minimum standards set out in Schedule C to the PIT Regulations.
- Managing Director (MD) / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MII shall be obligated to frame the referred code of conduct. The Board of Directors may ensure the compliance by MD / CEO in this regard.
- MII shall identify and designate a compliance officer to administer the aforesaid code of conduct.
- The Board of Directors of MII, in consultation with the compliance officer, shall specify the designated persons to be covered by the code of conduct on the basis of their role and function in the organisation and the access that such role and function would provide to unpublished price sensitive information.
MIIs shall put in place an Institutional Mechanism for prevention of fraud or market abuse covering the following:
- MD / CEO of the MII shall put in place adequate and effective system of internal controls to ensure compliance with the regulations and circulars issued by the Board from time to time, to prevent fraud or market abuse by MII or its designated persons and immediate relatives of designated persons.
- The Board of Directors of the MII shall ensure that the MD / CEO ensures compliance with the rules.
- The compliance officer of the respective MII shall administer the internal controls to prevent fraud or market abuse by designated persons and immediate relatives of designated persons of the MII.
- The Regulatory Oversight Committee of the MII shall review compliance with the provisions of this Circular at least once in a financial year and shall also verify that the systems for internal control are adequate and are operating effectively.
- MII shall formulate written policies and procedures for inquiry in case of suspected fraud or market abuse by its designated persons and immediate relatives of designated persons, which shall be approved by its Board of Directors.
- MII shall initiate appropriate inquiry upon becoming aware of any illegal or unethical practices or transactions of suspected fraud or market abuse by its designated persons and immediate relatives of designated persons and promptly inform its Board of Directors of such suspected fraud or market abuse and results of the inquiry.
- MII shall have an effective whistler-blower policy to enable stakeholders, including employees to freely communicate their concerns about illegal or unethical practices and report instances of fraud or market abuse or any suspicion of fraud or market abuse.
- MII shall ensure that the policy provides for suitable protection against any discharge, termination, demotion, suspension, threats, harassment, directly or indirectly or discrimination against any employee who reports instances of fraud or market abuse or any suspicion of fraud or market abuse.
SEBI as per this circular directed MIIs to immediately take necessary steps to put in place systems for implementation of this circular, including necessary amendments to the relevant bye-laws, rules and regulations for the implementation of the above and disseminate the same on their website.