Jignesh Shah, the promoter of Blackstone-backed Financial Technologies India Ltd (FTIL) and MCX, and Shreekant Javalgekar have been sent to police custody by Mumbai court till May 15, 2014 in relation to their alleged involvement in the National Spot Exchange (NSEL) scam.
Both of them were arrested on Wednesday evening by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police.
Shah’s arrest marks the most high-profile development in what is estimated to be a scam worth Rs 5,600 crore. Last October former NSEL chief executive Anjani Sinha was arrested. He continues to be in jail.
The public prosecutor says Shah, Javalgekar and Joseph Massey were the ‘main brains’ behind the scam which led to the payment crisis at the spot exchange.
Meanwhile, Shah has reportedly told the investigators that he too is a ‘victim’ of the scam and he tried his best to recover the money from borrowers.
Mahesh Jethmalani, Shah's lawyer, argued that there was no case for forgery against his client. He argued the charges against Shah are related to criminal breach of trust, which is a bailable offence. He had been called 21 times for questioning by EOW and was fully co-operating in the investigation.
The lost money of the investors has not been traced to the coffers of Shah or Javalgekar, argued Jethmalani, adding that Shah had only been negligent in the NSEL crisis.
A spokesperson of the Mumbai Police said that the arrests were necessitated as Shah and Javalgekar did not cooperate during interrogations and diverted questions while putting the onus on the former CEO of NSEL.
In a BSE disclosure late on Thursday, FTIL said, “The company is distressed at the arrest of its CMD (chairman and managing director) Jignesh Shah by the Mumbai Police, despite Shah co-operating fully not only with Mumbai Police but also with all other authorities, ever since the NSEL crisis surfaced in August 2013.”
The FTIL board has decided that Venkat Chary, independent non-executive director, shall be independent, non-executive chairman of the board. In the interim, the existing two whole-time directors of the company shall be in charge of the day-to-day affairs.
FTIL board is meeting on May 10, 2014 to take stock of the proposed divestment of stake in MCX.
FTIL counts Blackstone, Norwegian sovereign wealth fund Government Pension Fund Global and Citigroup Venture Capital International as shareholders. MCX has shareholders such as Intel Capital and Blackstone.
Blackstone owns 7 per cent in FTIL besides 4.8 per cent in MCX.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)