NSE phones tapped for 8 years by private firm owned by ex
Former NSE top bosses Ravi Narain and Chitra Ramkrishna had roped in a company founded by the now retired Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Pandey to snoop on the stock market employees by illegally intercepting their phones calls, the CBI has alleged in a recent FIR against them.
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The CBI on Friday started a coordinated search operation in 18 cities after filing the FIR on a reference from the Union Home Ministry.
The agency has named Pandey, his Delhi-based company, NSE's former MD and CEOs Narain and Ramkrishna, executive vice president Ravi Varanasi and head (premises) Mahesh Haldipur, among others, in the FIR, officials said.
The CBI has alleged that during the period 2009-17, Narain, Ramkrishna, currently in judicial custody in the NSE colocation scam, Varanasi and Haldipur conspired to illegally intercept the telephones of NSE employees for which they hired iSEC Services Pvt Ltd, founded by Pandey in 2001.
Pandey had incorporated the company after resigning from the Indian Police Service but his resignation was not accepted.
The company allegedly received a payment of Rs 4.45 crore for illegal tapping which was camouflaged as "Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities" at the NSE, the FIR has alleged.
The company also provided transcripts of the tapped conversations to senior management of the stock market, it claimed.
"...Top officials of NSE issued agreement and work orders in favour of said private company and illegally intercepted the phone calls of its employees by installing machines, in contravention of provisions under Indian Telegraph Act," a statement from the CBI said.
Officials said the interception was stopped in 2019, months after the CBI started probing the NSE colocation scam in 2018, and the machines and other infrastructure used for interception were disposed of as e-waste by the bourse.
The alleged fraud relates to manipulation of the stock market through electronic chicanery.
During the searches, the CBI claimed to have recovered original transcripts, raid server, voice samples, two laptops containing evidence related to interception, bills generated for services rendered by iSEC, among others, from the company premises, officials said.
They said four MTNL lines used by NSE employees having capacity for 120 calls at a time were under the scanner.
The agency alleged that no permission for this activity was obtained from the competent authority as provided for under section five of the Indian Telegraph Act.
"No consent of the employees of NSE was also taken in this matter," it said.
The CBI has also listed as accused the then directors of iSEC Services Pvt Ltd Santosh Pandey, Anand Narayan, Armaan Pandey, Manish Mittal, former Senior Information Security Analyst Naman Chaturvedi and Arun Kumar Singh.
The search operation, which started on Friday, was spread across premises linked to the accused in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Lucknow, Kota and Chandigarh.
The company had done the safety audit around the time the colocation scam was allegedly taking place.
Pandey, who launched iSEC Services Pvt Ltd in March 2001, resumed his duties as an IPS officer in 2006 after resigning as a director of the company. His son and mother later took charge.
The now retired police officer, who studied at IIT-Kanpur and Harvard University, was appointed the Mumbai Police Commissioner by the MVA government headed by Uddhav Thackeray.
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