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ICICI Bank settles case with Sebi; pays Rs 28.40 lakh

Private sector lender ICICI Bank on Friday settled with markets regulator Sebi a case pertaining to alleged failure against victimisation of the whistle-blower, after paying Rs 28.40 lakh towards settlement charges.

Sebi agreed to settle the case pertaining to alleged violation of LODR (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) norms, after it was approached by the bank with a plea under the settlement regulations “without admitting or denying the findings of fact and conclusion of law”.

“In view of the acceptance of the settlement terms and receipt of settlement charges… the instant adjudication proceedings initiated against the applicant…are disposed of,” Sebi said in a settlement order.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had received a complaint lodged by Samir Kumar Das, an ex-employee of ICICI Bank, on the SCORES platform. It was alleged that he was victimised by the bank in contravention of the provisions of the whistle-blower mechanism.

The complainant said ICICI Bank offered him to join SMEAG (Small Medium Enterprise And Agri Group) in November 13, 2018, to which he expressed reservations to join considering that they were officials against whom he had blown the whistle, the order mentioned.

However, after reconsideration in view of his transfer to ICICI Foundation, he offered to join SMEAG on November 14, 2018, to which the bank did not accept, thereby allegedly violated the code of conduct and corporate governance by not giving him a suitable environment to work, it added.

The offer provided to him by the bank to join the ICICI Foundation was detrimental to his interests and his banking career, the complainant said.

According to the complainant, ICICI Bank’s rights are limited to transferring an employee only to a group company and not to ICICI Foundation.

In its order, Sebi said it conducted examination to ascertain whether ICICI Bank as per vigil mechanism, prescribed under LODR Regulations, provided adequate safeguards against victimisation of the whistle-blower.

During examination by Sebi, the response of ICICI Bank was not found satisfactory and it was observed that the lender failed to provide appropriate protection against victimisation of the complainant who was the whistle-blower against the bank, the order mentioned.

It was alleged that the bank, by its actions, has violated the provisions of the LODR Regulations.

Thereafter, the bank approached Sebi to settle the instant proceedings.

Sebi’s high-powered advisory committee considered the settlement terms proposed by the bank and recommended the case for settlement upon payment of Rs 28.40 lakh.

Accordingly, the bank paid the settlement amount after which the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) disposed of the case.

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