At the same time, SEBI is open to consider the settlement pleas of those suspected of small offences in the capital markets, provided those violations are not to the detriment of retail investors or the overall marketplace, so that the regulator can sharpen its focus on probing serious cases.

The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) also said the regulatory authority has made a robust settlement mechanism, which is stronger than the prevailing norms in many developed markets such as the US, and is now being followed by regulators in some other countries, including the UK.

A consent mechanism has been in place at SEBI since 2007, which allows an entity being probed for suspected violations to settle the case after payment of settlement fees and other applicable charges without admitting or denying the guilt.

This framework was tightened further in 2012, while the newly enacted Securities Laws Amendments Act has converted it into a regulation with necessary legal backing for such settlements.

SEBI’s orders in these matters cannot even be challenged now.

To further streamline these norms, SEBI has put in place a detailed ‘mathematical’ formula and has adopted a scientific approach to determine the settlement charges required to be paid by the concerned entities, as also to decide whether a case is appropriate to be settled or it is liable to be rejected for any possible settlement.

“Earlier, there was a chance that someone would come up with the most difficult and bad crimes and still get consent. At the same time, we have been criticised for being arbitrary in accepting or rejecting a case for settlement. But, now we have put in place new guidelines to take care of these issues,” Sinha told PTI in an interview.

“What we have done is that on the pattern of criminal law, certain offences which are minor in nature, only those will be consented. So we have created two categories — if you commit big offences, you have to suffer. We can’t let you go away without even admitting the offence.

“This is in vast contrast to practices prevailing in the US and many other developed markets. There, you can do anything and still seek settlement. SEBI has decided that we will not do that. If you have consciously done it, you must suffer,” he said.

The SEBI chief further said that “even if somebody is coming for settlement, we have removed the discretion from the officer level for deciding on such pleas”.

Latest News  from Business News Desk