The government has extended Upendra Kumar Sinha’s tenure as chairman of its securities regulator, two senior finance ministry officials said, giving him an extra two years to achieve reforms including bringing more transparency to stock markets.
After taking the job at the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2011, he unveiled rules to improve corporate governance and disclosure standards at Indian companies and has been tasked with instituting a law to counter insider trading.
India is trying to lure back retail investors after markets were hit by the global financial crisis in 2008, eroding the trust of ordinary Indians who have pulled nearly $5 billion out of equity funds since then. Last year the government granted SEBI more powers of investigation and enforcement, including the right to see phone records and to conduct raids.
Critics say some of Sinha’s rules go too far, while others fear that his reforms may not be backed by meaningful action.
He has tried to reduce the clout of controlling shareholders, who have traditionally called the shots in industry in India, and has asked exchanges to beef up their compliance departments and unveiled proposals in December to toughen 20-year-old insider trading rules.
“He has been doing a lot of things that will ultimately create vibrant capital markets in the form of reforms in the stock markets and his current focus on the debt markets,” said an industry executive, who asked not to be named.
“But he has his work cut out for him to see all these things are implemented well.”
Sinha has also been accused of being draconian.
His rules aimed at countering mis-selling in the mutual fund industry were blamed for stymieing growth and exacerbating redemptions by putting what executives say were excessive restrictions on commissions paid by funds to distributors.
His push to protect small investors has also led him to a high profile battle against the Sahara conglomerate, one of India’s biggest business groups and a household name due to its sponsorship of the national cricket team.
Sinha is expected to keep working on making markets more sophisticated. Under him, SEBI has allowed bond trading on exchanges, and along with the central bank, relaunched bond futures after two failed attempts.