Now, India’s market regulator SEBI wants to see your WhatsApp chats: Here’s why

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Updated: Mar 8, 2018, 02:44 PM IST

Markets regulator SEBI directed Tata Motors to conduct an internal inquiry into leakage of unpublished price sensitive information related to its quarterly financial results through WhatsApp. Tata Motors is the third Sensex company related to whom the regulator has passed an order in the high-profile case of leakage of sensitive financial details prior to formal announcement of quarterly results.

However, WhatsApp has reportedly refused to share user data with SEBI, on grounds of privacy. The messaging service isn’t obligated to share the user data with SEBI. But, if the company does not cooperate, SEBI could take this matter to court against the Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

In a detailed order, the watchdog had said that prima facie appears that the financial results of Tata Motors for quarter ended December 2015 were finalised on or before February 9, 2016, which was before circulation of WhatsApp message on February 11, 2016. It is observed that the financial figures pertaining to the quarterly results of Tata Motors were matching with the figures that were in circulation prior to its official announcement by the company, the order noted.

"Such resemblance of the information circulated on WhatsApp with the actual financial results prima facie indicates that the financial figures of Tata Motors were in circulation prior to official announcement/ publication by Tata Motors," it added.

The watchdog has asked Tata Motors to conduct an internal inquiry into the leakage within three months to ascertain the possible role of any officials. Besides, the auto maker has been asked to strengthen its processes to ensure that such instances of leakage of unpublished price sensitive information do not recur in future. Earlier, SEBI had passed orders in the leakage case with respect to Axis Bank and HDFC Bank.

With inputs from PTI

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