Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India on Friday conducted searches at properties owned by 34 market analysts and dealers in connection with an inquiry into possible leaks of company earnings in social media chatrooms, The Hindu reported.
The Sebi investigation comes after a Reuters report documented at least 12 cases of prescient messages about major Indian companies being posted in private WhatsApp groups.
The messages involved upcoming quarterly results, net profits, revenues and operating margins. They also had information about upcoming bonus share problems and revenue guidance, according to the report.
In 2015, India had toughened insider trading rules and expanded the scope of who constitutes an “insider” to include “anyone in possession of or having access to unpublished price-sensitive information”, regardless of how they came “in possession of or had access to such information”.
Circulating such information can lead to penalties and a jail term of up to 10 years.