Harshad Mehta & Ketan Parekh Scam
Harshad Mehta: the high-profile stockbroker
Harshad Shantilal Mehta (1954-2002) was an Indian stockbroker who grabbed headlines for the notorious BSE security scam of 1992. Born in a lower middle-class Gujarati Jain family, Mehta spent his early childhood in Mumbai where his father was a small-time businessman. The family relocated to Raipur in Chhattisgarh after doctors advised Mehta’s father to shift to a drier place on account of his health. Transition from an ordinary broker to ‘Big Bull’
Mehta studied in Holy Cross Higher Secondary School, Byron Bazar, Raipur. He quit his job at The New India Assurance Company in 1980 and sought a new one with BSE-affiliated stockbroker P. Ambalal before going on to become a jobber on the BSE for stockbroker P.D. Shukla. In 1981, Mehta became a sub-broker for stockbrokers J.L. Shah and Nandalal Sheth. Having gained considerable experience as a sub-broker, he teamed up with his brother Sudhir to float a new venture called Grow More Research and Asset Management Company Limited. When the BSE auctioned a broker’s card, the Mehta duo’s company bid for it with the financial support of J.L. Shah and Nandalal Sheth. Another name that is rumored to have a crucial hand in the scam was Nimesh Shah. However, Shah could keep a safe distance from the accusations and is currently known to be a heavy player in the Indian stock market. By year 1990, Mehta became a prominent name in the Indian stock market. He started buying shares heavily. The shares of India's foremost cement manufacturer Associated Cement Company (ACC) attracted him the most and the scamster is known to have taken the price of the cement company from 200 to 9000 (approx.) in the stock market – implying a 4400% rise in its price. It is believed that It was later revealed that Mehta used the replacement cost theory to explain the reason for the high-level bidding. The replacement cost theory basically states that older companies should be valued on the basis of the amount of money that would be needed to create another similar company. By the latter half of 1991, Mehta had come to be called the ‘Big Bull’ as people credited him with having initiated the Bull Run. The making of the 1992 security scam
Mehta, along with his associates, was accused of manipulating the rise in the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in 1992. They took advantage of the many loopholes in the banking system and drained off funds from inter-bank transactions. Subsequently, they bought huge amounts of shares at a premium across many industry verticals causing the Sensex to rise dramatically. However, this was not to continue. The exposure of Mehta's modus operandi led banks to start demanding their money back, causing the Sensex to plunge almost dramatically as it had risen. Mehta was later charged with 72 criminal offences while over 600 civil action suits were filed against him. Significantly, the Harshad Mehta security scandal also became the flavor of Bollywood with Sameer Hanchate's film Gafla. The 1992 security scam and its exposure
Mehta's illicit methods of manipulating the stock market were exposed on April 23, 1992, when veteran columnist Sucheta Dalal wrote an article in India's national daily The Times of India. Dalal’s column read: “The crucial mechanism through which the scam was effected was the ready forward (RF) deal. The RF is in essence a secured short-term (typically 15-day) loan from one bank to another. Crudely put, the bank lends against government securities just as a pawnbroker lends against jewelers. The borrowing bank actually sells the securities to the lending bank and buys them back at the end of the period of the loan, typically at a slightly higher price.” In a ready-forward deal, a broker usually brings together two banks for which he is paid a commission. Although the broker does not handle the cash or the securities, this was not the case in the prelude to the Mehta scam. Mehta...
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