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Rs 500-Crore Home Trade Scam: Sebi Bars Foreign Director For 10 Years

Home Trade had sought to position itself as a new-age finance portal comprising several e-commerce ventures with the help of glitzy advertising campaigns involving several top stars from cricket and Bollywood.
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Sebi had barred Home Trade and its promoters from accessing the securities market for 10 years
Sebi had barred Home Trade and its promoters from accessing the securities market for 10 years
New Delhi: Market regulator Sebi has barred for 10 years foreign national Allen James Macmillan, a director at erstwhile Home Trade Ltd, which hit the headlines for an estimated Rs 500-crore scam nearly two decades ago. The company had sought to position itself as a new-age finance portal comprising several e-commerce ventures with the help of glitzy advertising campaigns involving several top stars from cricket and Bollywood. The latest order follows repeated attempts by Sebi to trace Mr Macmillan, whose last-known address available with the regulator was that of the US, for serving show-cause notices and for getting his reply to a host of queries over the years, starting from 2004.

Home Trade came out with a public offer of shares by its promoter Euro Offshore Investments Limited (now known as Euro Discovery Technology Venture Limited) in 1999, but Sebi later found that a bulk of shares were actually bought by those related to Ketan Sheth-led promoters and top officials.

Allen James Macmillan was one of the directors of Home Trade during the period.

The shares of the company began trading at a price range of Rs 250-270 on November 15, 1999 and were artificially increased to Rs 850 within a year by September 2000.

Subsequently, the share price began falling and hit a low of Rs 60-70 by March 2002.

The transactions by the promoters, directors, key management personnel and related entities in the shares were instrumental in establishing an artificial price and volumes in the scrip with the intention to pledge those shares to raise funds from banks.

While Sebi has passed orders against several others in this case, its notices to Mr Macmillan returned undelivered repeatedly after which they were published in newspapers and posted on the regulator's website, but no reply was received. 

One last opportunity of personal hearing was granted to him on September 27, 2016 and a hearing notice was affixed at his last known address.

In an order in December 2015, Sebi barred Home Trade and its promoters, key management personnel and associate entities from accessing the securities market for a period of 10 years, though none of them appeared before the regulator or replied to its notices.

In its latest order passed on Tuesday, Sebi said Mr Macmillan was one of the directors of HTL.

"From the facts and circumstances detailed above and in the absence of any proper reply from the Noticee, I find that the promoters and directors of HTL including Allen James Macmillan were instrumental in the manipulations with respect to OFS (Offer for Sale) and post OFS trading in the scrip of HTL," Sebi Whole-Time Member S Raman said in his order.

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