Madhabi Puri Buch, former whole-time member of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has been appointed as its new chairperson, the first woman to head the market regulator.
Buch, who will take over from current SEBI chief Ajay Tyagi, has been appointed for a tenure of three years.
With over three decades of experience in the financial markets, Buch was a SEBI whole-time member between April 5, 2017, and October 4, 2021, during which she handled portfolios such as surveillance, collective investment schemes, and investment management.
Her immediate agenda will be to handle the cases related to the NSE co-location scandal and former NSE MD & CEO Chitra Ramkrishna. The regulator is already facing flak for not doing enough to punish the culprits in the co-location case which is under CBI investigation now. On the other hand, SEBI allowed Ramkrishna and former NSE Chief Operating Officer Anand Subramanian to go virtually scot-free in 2016-17.
SEBI’s order against Ramkrishna and Subramanian came only on February 11 this year, though their involvement was known in 2016. Despite having search and seizure powers, it did not act effectively in the co-location and Ramkrishna cases, said an observer.
While some bureaucrats were also in the race for the SEBI top post, the Financial Sector Regulatory Appointments Search Committee (FSRASC) headed by the Cabinet Secretary shortlisted the candidates.
At SEBI, Buch was known for cracking down on fraudulent trading by two prominent television anchors of a business news channel.
In 2021, she also passed a controversial order in the insider trading case of Deep Industries Limited. The regulator had examined the Facebook profiles of the accused entities and found they were ‘friends’ on the platform and had ‘liked’ each other’s posts. "An insider can be by way of their association in any capacity or it can be by way of frequent communication with its officers, which can also be in their social capacity, as evident in this case by frequent interactions, including on social media," Buch said in her order.
In 2017, Buch passed a number of orders banning trading in suspected shell companies, based on the list drawn up by the government during its drive against black money.
After her tenure at SEBI, Buch became the head of a seven-member expert group that was formed to help the regulator design in-house technological systems.
Before her assignment at SEBI, Buch was a consultant with the New Development Bank in Shanghai. She has also served as the head of the Singapore office of the private equity firm, Greater Pacific Capital; as MD and chief executive officer at ICICI Securities Limited; and as an executive director on the board of ICICI Bank.
A graduate in mathematics from St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, and an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Ahmedabad, Buch joined ICICI Bank in 1989.