Sebi bans Grass Root Finance, 12 others from capital markets for 4 years

The Sebi Friday banned Assam-based Grass Root Finance & Investment Company (GFIC) and 12 others from securities markets for at least four years, for raising funds without complying with the public issue norms.

The 12 others include present and former directors and promoters of the firm.

Besides, the markets regulator directed the company and its present directors to refund the money "jointly and severally" collected from investors along with 15 per cent interest within three months from the date of the order.

Last year, the Sebi through an interim order had banned the entities from accessing the securities markets after finding "prima facie" violations of the public issue norms by them.

On Friday, the regulator in a final order said that GFIC raised "at least Rs 6.80 crore" from over 9,000 investors through an offer of equity shares from year 1995 to 2007.

However, the offer was deemed to be a 'public issue' under the Companies Act as the equity shares were allotted to more than 49 persons, the Sebi said

Under the public issue norms, the company was required to compulsory list the shares on recognised stock exchanges.

Besides, the firm was also required to file a prospectus, among others, which it failed to do, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) said.

Accordingly, the Sebi directed GFIC, its present directors -- Jiten Chandra Bora, Jagneshwar Sakia, Karuna Borah and Keshab Gogoi -- to refund the money to investors and banned them along with eight others from the securities market "from the date of the order till the expiry of four years from the date of completion of refunds to investors".

Among the eight, four persons have already undergone prohibition for more than a year. Hence, the prohibition already undergone by them would be adjusted while calculating the period of prohibition imposed through this order, the regulator said.

In a separate order, Sebi imposed a penalty of Rs 9 lakh on two promoters of Kolkata-based Martin Burn Ltd -- Kedar Nath Fatehpuria and Vijay Kumar Fatehpuria -- for failing to make requisite disclosures to the exchanges and the firm with regard to transfer of shares of the company.

By failing to make required disclosures, the promoters violated the PIT (Prohibition of Insider Trading) and the SAST (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, Sebi noted.

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