Ashok Chawla resigns as NSE chairman over Aircel-Maxis charges


Ashok Chawla resigned on Friday as chairman of the National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE) with immediate effect “in light of recent legal developments”, the exchange said.

The one-sentence press release gave no details.

Chawla’s resignation came on a day the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a special court in Delhi that it has obtained the sanction of the ministries concerned to file charges against him and four other former bureaucrats in the Aircel-Maxis case.

Mint first reported on 5 November that Chawla would need to step down as soon as the CBI gets the go-ahead to prosecute him. Chawla had to step down as he was no longer “fit and proper” as per the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).

Individuals under prosecution and those who have been convicted of any offence involving moral turpitude or an economic offence or violation of securities laws cannot lead stock exchanges under Sebi’s stock exchanges and clearing corporations norms.

Sebi launched a preliminary examination of Chawla’s chairmanship in October after receiving two complaints that said the CBI probes made Chawla’s position untenable.

After the preliminary examination, Sebi in October told the finance ministry that Chawla’s “fit and proper” status will only come in question if and when charges are filed.

The special court also extended the interim protection from arrest granted to former Union minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti till 1 February.

Five public servants are co-accused along with Chidambaram in a case of alleged corruption in the grant of Foreign Investment and Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance in the Aircel-Maxis deal.

The CBI is probing how Chidambaram granted FIPB approval to a foreign firm, when the only body empowered to do so was the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.

On 19 July, the CBI filed a chargesheet naming 18 individuals.

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