India’s markets regulator on Tuesday fined BSE Rs 3 crore and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) Rs 2 crore for “laxity” in detecting misconduct by Karvy Stock Broking (KSBL).

The Hyderabad-based brokerage misused securities worth Rs 2,300 crore belonging to more than 95,000 clients by pledging them without authorisation, said the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). The firm and its group entities used funds the to raise Rs 851 crore from eight banks.

“Without doubt, it was KSBL which misused clients (sic) securities by unauthorisedly pledging them and was thus responsible for loss caused by pledging securities which it did not own, including loss to investors as well as loss to banks and NBFCs who loaned funds to KSBL against securities which did not belong to KSBL,” said Sebi.

Noticee (BSE & NSE), which resulted in delayed detection of the misconduct by KSBL and the Noticee needs to be held accountable for the same,” Sebi said in two separate orders against the country’s leading stock exchanges.”

Sebi had examined details of inspection and action taken by NSE and BSE against KSBL conducted between 2016 and 2019. It further asked the exchanges to furnish the procedure they followed to ensure reconcillation of clients’ securities.

Sebi’s investigation found lapses on the part of both exchanges.

In 2019, Sebi had passed an ex-parte ad-interim order against KSBL when the unauthorisedly pledging issue came to light. Efforts taken by Sebi, depositories and exchanges helped KSBL’s clients recover their dues.

In December 2019, depository firm NSDL had said securities were returned to 82,559 clients from the KSBL Demat account. In November 2020, NSE had said funds and securities worth Rs 2,300 crore belonging to about 235,000 investors of KSBL were settled.

After the KSBL investigation, Sebi changed norms around pledging of shares to prevent misuse by brokerage. The regulator did away with the concept of power of attorney which earlier allowed brokerages gain access to client securities.

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