Burman Family-controlled entities make insider trading complaint against Religare Chief Saluja

The Burman Family, promoters of Dabur Group and single-largest shareholder in Religare Enterprises Ltd (REL), have approached SEBI accusing REL Chairperson Rashmi Saluja of yet another breach of the market regulator’s insider trading norms.

The four Burman Family-controlled entities — which had in September 2023 made an open offer to acquire 26 per cent stake in REL— have now alleged that Saluja sold 2.71 million shares worth ₹43 crore between March 26 and 28 this year while possessing crucial price-sensitive information that was not disclosed to the stock exchanges, sources close to the development said.

This was violative of SEBI insider trading prohibition regulations, according to a letter written by these four Burman Family entities to SEBI last month.

This is the second time that Burman Family has accused Saluja of insider trading violations. In November last year, the Burman Family had accused that Saluja as Chairperson of REL had resorted to insider trading of REL shares ahead of open offer announcement in September 2023.

Corporate tussle

It maybe recalled that REL’s Board led by Saluja and the Burman Family are engaged in a corporate tussle for control of REL. The REL Board under Saluja is resisting Burman Family’s attempts to take control of REL and therefore not in favour of the open offer going through, sources said. Both sides have, over the last nine months, been trading charges at each other for violating insider trading regulations and corporate governance norms. 

In the latest letter to SEBI, the Burman Family is understood to have alleged that Saluja was aware that the REL Board had on March 21, 2024, notified the acquirers (four Burman Family entities) that it had “noticed grave concerns against the Acquirers, their promoters, etc that cast a serious doubt on whether the incoming acquirers (Burman Family) would meet the fit and proper criteria… and there is no occasion for REL to approach the RBI or any other regulator on your behalf”.

This letter of REL Board to acquirers had represented a formal view of the board, which challenged the acquisition of controlling stake in REL by the Burman Family-controlled four entities.

The Burman Family is understood to have conveyed to SEBI that such a conclusion by REL board — although the board is not legally entitled to form such a view and is acting without basis — constitutes “material information” for the purpose of insider trading regulations.

The Burman Family entities have contended in their complaint that if such information had been made public, it would have depressed REL’s share price. They alleged that Saluja had made undue profits from the trade by taking advantage of this information. 

The Burman Family has now urged SEBI to conduct a thorough investigation into the trades undertaken by Saluja and ban Saluja from the securities market, sources said. It had in its earlier complaint to SEBI last year alleged that Saluja sold 1.29 million shares worth ₹34.71 crore on September 21-22, 2023.

This transaction was done by Saluja after a representative of the Burman Family had on September 20 last year informed her of the family’s intention to make an open offer to acquire control of REL, Burman Family had alleged..

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