RBI Regulatory Updates & Developments

WLAs in India – Review of Guidelines

It has been decided to allow White Label ATM Operators (WLAs) to:

  1. Buy wholesale cash, above a threshold of 1 lakh pieces (and in multiples thereof) of any denomination, directly from the Reserve Bank (Issue Offices) and Currency Chests against full payment.
  2. Source cash from any scheduled bank, including Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks.
  3. Offer bill payment and interoperable cash deposit services, subject to technical feasibility and certification by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  4. Display advertisements pertaining to non-financial products or services anywhere within the WLA premises, including the WLA screen, except the main signboard.

Banks have been permitted to issue co-branded ATM cards in partnership with the authorised WLA Operators and may extend the benefit of ‘on-us’ transactions to their WLAs as well.


Deferral of Implementation of Indian Accounts Standards (Ind AS)

The implementation of Ind AS, already deferred by one year, has now been further deferred until further notice, pending necessary legislative amendments to the Banking Regulation Act 1949.  It has also been found that many banks are still not prepared for the changes.


Voluntary Retention Route ‘(VRR) for FPIs Investment in Debt

RBI has introduced a separate channel, called the ‘Voluntary Retention Route’ (VRR), to enable Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) to invest in debt markets in India. Investments through this route will be free of the macro-prudential and other regulatory norms applicable to FPI investments in debt markets, provided FPIs voluntarily commit to retaining a required minimum percentage of their investments in India for a period. The highlights of the scheme are:

  1. FPIs registered with SEBI are eligible to participate through this route and participation would be voluntary.
  2. FPIs will be eligible to invest in any Government Securities i.e., Central Government dated Securities (G-Secs), Treasury Bills (T-bills) as well as State Development Loans (SDLs).
  3. Under VRR for Corporate Debt, FPIs may invest in specified instruments listed under Schedule 5 of Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident outside India) Regulations, 2017.
  4. Investment in Repo and Reverse Repo transactions would be permitted.
  5. Investment under this route would be capped at INR 40,000 crore per annum for investment in Government and INR 35,000 crore per annum for Corporate Debt instruments or such higher amount, as may be decided by RBI from time to time
  6. No FPI (including its related FPIs) would be allotted an investment limit greater than 50% of the amount offered for each allotment by tap or auction in case there is a demand for more than 100% of amount offered.
  7. FPIs would be required to invest the amount allocated, called the Committed Portfolio Size (CPS) in the relevant debt instruments and remain invested at all times during the voluntary retention period, subject to the certain relaxations.
  8. Utilisation of limits and adherence to other requirements of this Route would be the responsibility of both the FPI and its custodian


Hedging of Exchange Rate Risk by FPIs Under Voluntary Retention Route

RBI has issued a notification permitting Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) to hedge the exposure to exchange rate risk on account of investments made under the Voluntary Retention Route (VRR).  The key provisions are:

  • The products would include forwards, options, cost reduction structures and swaps with Rupee as one of the currencies.
  • Authorised dealers may offer derivative contracts using any of the aforementioned products to eligible users under VRR or to its central treasury, subject to the following conditions
    • The FPI has an exposure to exchange rate risk on account of investments made under VRR.
    • The notional value and tenor of the contract does not exceed the value and tenor of the exposure.
    • The FPI has an exposure to exchange rate risk on account of investments made under VRR.
    • The same exposure has not been hedged with any other authorised dealer or on the exchange.
    • In cases where the value of the exposure falls below the notional value of the derivative, the derivative would need to be suitably adjusted. However, if such divergence has occurred on account of change in market value of the exposure, the FPI may, at its discretion, continue with the derivative contract till its original maturity.
  • FPIs would be permitted to freely cancel and rebook the derivative contracts.
  • It would need to be ensured that all payables incidental to the hedge are met by the FPI out of repatriable funds or inward remittance through normal banking channels.


Trade Credit Policy – Revised Framework

The Trade Credit framework based on the new External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) framework has been issued. 

  1. Trade Credits can be raised under the automatic route up to the amount specified in the Annex to the circular and in compliance with the other applicable norms.
  2. While considering the trade credit proposal, the designated AD Category I bank is expected to ensure compliance with applicable Trade Credit guidelines by their constituents.

The amended Trade Credit policy will come into force with immediate effect.


Establishment of BO or LO or PO or any Other Place of Business in India by Foreign Entities.

It has been advised that for opening of a Branch Office (BO), Liaison Office (LO), Project Office (PO) or any other place of business in India, where the principal business of the applicant falls in the Defence, Telecom, Private Security and Information and Broadcasting sector, no prior approval of the Reserve Bank of India would be required, if either Government approval, licence, or permission by the concerned Ministry or Regulator has already been granted. Further, in the case of a proposal for opening a PO relating to defence sector, no separate reference or approval of Government of India would be required if the said non-resident applicant has been awarded a contract or has entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Defence, Service Headquarters, Defence Public Sector Undertakings.


Investment by FPIs in Government Securities - Medium Term Framework

RBI has revised the framework for investment by FPIs in Government Securities:

  1. Revision of investment Limits for 2019-20
    • The limit for FPI investment in G-secs, SDLs and corporate bonds shall be 6%, 2%, and 9% of outstanding stocks of securities, respectively, in FY 2019-20.
    • The allocation of increase in G-sec limit over the two sub-categories – ‘General’ and ‘Long-term’ – has been set at 50:50 for the year 2019-20. The entire increase in limits for SDLs has been added to the ‘General’ sub-category of SDLs.
    • The coupon reinvestment arrangement for G-secs shall be extended to SDLs.
    • Accordingly, the revised limit in total debt would be INR 6983 billion for the half- year April to September 2019 and INR 7465 billion for the half year October 2019 to March 2020.


Interest Subvention Scheme for Short Term Crop Loans During the Years 2018-19 and 2019-20

The Government of India has approved the implementation of the Interest Subvention Scheme with modifications for the years 2018-19 and 2019-20 for short term crop loans up to ₹ 3 lakh. Stipulations apply and can be found in the following circular:  


Reserve Bank of India (Prevention of Market Abuse) Directions, 2019

Reserve Bank of India has issued Directions on the prevention of market abuse to all eligible market participants through its circular dated 15th March 2019.

The Directions would apply to transactions of all participants in markets for financial instruments but would exclude transactions executed through the recognised stock exchanges in accordance with the regulations of SEBI. Market participants have been defined as ‘persons transacting or facilitating a transaction in the markets for financial instruments. The key stipulations are outlined below:

  1. Market participants should not engage in, or attempt to engage in, market manipulation.
  2. Market participants have been advised not to undertake transactions on Electronic Trading Platforms that may disrupt or delay its functioning.
  3. Market participants, either acting independently or in collusion, have been precluded from undertaking any action, with the intention to manipulate the calculation of a benchmark rate or a reference rate.
  4. A market participant that is in possession of ‘non-public price-sensitive information’ shall not use it for any material benefit to itself or to others- they would be required to maintain confidentiality of price sensitive information.
  5. Any instance of market abuse or attempted market abuse would need to be reported to RBI promptly.
  6. Market participants committing market abuse are liable to be denied access to markets in one or more instruments for a period that may not exceed one month at a time.


Non-resident Participant in Rupee Interest Rate Derivatives Market (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2019

In the Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement issued in April 2018, it was announced that non-residents would be given access to the Rupee Interest Rate Derivative (IRD) market in India.

The Non-resident Participation in Rupee Interest Rate Derivatives Markets (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2019 have since been finalised:

  1. Non-residents can undertake transactions in the rupee interest rate derivatives markets to hedge an exposure to rupee interest rate risk and for purposes other than hedging.
  2. Such hedging can be done using any permitted product transacted on recognised stock exchanges, electronic trading platforms (ETPs) or over the counter (OTC) markets.
  3. The non-resident has to ensure that its interest rate derivative transactions conform to the relevant provisions of the RBI Act, 1934, as well as applicable provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, and the rules, regulations and directions issued


Foreign Exchange Management (Deposit) Regulations, 2016 - Opening of NRO Accounts by LTV holders, Changes Related to SNRR Account and Escrow Account

  1. Authorised Dealers may allow an FPI and a Foreign Venture Capital Investor (FVCI), registered with SEBI to open and maintain a non-interest bearing foreign currency account for the purpose of making investments in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2017, as amended from time to time.
  2. Authorised Dealers are permitted to open only one Non-Resident Ordinary (NRO) Account for a citizen of Bangladesh or Pakistan who belongs to a minority community in those countries, residing in India and who has been granted a Long Term Visa (LTV) by the Central Government. The account will be converted to a resident account once such a person becomes a citizen of India within the meaning of the Citizenship Act, 1955(Foreigners)
  3. It has now been decided that Special Non-resident Rupee (SNRR) accounts opened by a person resident outside India, may remain operative beyond the stipulated period of seven years with RBI approval. The restriction of seven years will not be applicable to SNRR accounts opened by a person resident outside India who is registered with SEBI and who wishes to make an investment in India in accordance with Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2017, subject to change.
  4. It has been decided that Escrow Accounts can be opened by residents and non-residents for acquisition or transfer of capital instruments or convertible notes and can also be funded by guarantee(s).


Press Release

During March 2019, 3 NBFCs surrendered their Certificates of Registration to RBI. RBI also cancelled the registration certificates of a further 29 NBFCs. All of these companies cannot now undertake the business of a Non-Banking Financial Institution, as laid down under clause (a) of Section 45-I of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.

SEBI Regulatory Updates & Developments

SEBI’s circular of 7th December 7, 2018 specified the requirements related to disclosure of significant beneficial ownership in the shareholding pattern of listed entities. Subsequent to the issue of the aforesaid circular, the Companies (Significant Beneficial Owners) Rules, 2018 were amended by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Accordingly, a revised format has been prescribed for disclosure of significant beneficial ownership by listed companies. (See circular dated 12th March 2019)

A previous stipulation that no FPI shall have an exposure of more than 20% of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate (including exposure to related parties of corporate as defined under section 2(76) (viii) of Companies Act, 2013) has now been withdrawn by RBI (circular dated 15th February 2019) and in view of this, SEBI too has now withdrawn this requirement (See circular dated 12th March 2019). Further, SEBI has clarified that all the circulars and directions issued hereinafter by RBI with respect to investment conditions for FPI Investment in corporate debt securities, would need to be complied with as per the timelines specified in the RBI circulars. Any non-compliance with the requirements prescribed by RBI in this regard would be liable for action in terms of SEBI (Foreign Portfolio Investors) Regulations, 2014.

In terms of the SEBI (Delisting of Equity Shares) Regulations, 2015, promoters or acquirers are permitted to make a counter offer, in case the price discovered through reverse book building is not acceptable to them. SEBI has prescribed the timelines for a counter offer process.  (See circular dated 13th March 2019)

The public announcement of the counter offer would need to disclose the book value per share of the company and the Letter of Offer would need to be in the abridged form containing the relevant details pertaining to the counter offer including details of the counter offer, activity schedule etc.

Guidelines for participation of Eligible Foreign Investors (EFIs) and FPIs in the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) had been published by SEBI,(circular  of 4th January 2007) and it has now been  clarified that the EFIs may participate in commodity derivatives contracts traded in stock exchanges in IFSC subject to the following conditions (See circular dated 18th March 2019):

  • The participation would be limited to the derivatives contracts in non-agricultural commodities only.
  • Contracts would be cash settled on the settlement price determined on overseas exchanges.
  • All the transactions shall be denominated in foreign currency only.

SEBI has reduced the regulatory fee on stock exchanges with respect to turnover in agricultural commodity derivatives. It has also been decided that the stock exchanges dealing with agricultural commodity derivatives shall create a separate fund earmarked for the benefit of farmers or Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in which the regulatory fee forgone by SEBI shall be deposited and utilised exclusively for the benefit of, and easy participation by, Farmers and FPOs in the agri-commodity derivatives market. Any income on investments from the fund shall also be ploughed back into the same fund. (See circular dated 20th March 2019)

SEBI has revised the norms relating to valuation of money market and debt securities, as below: (See circular dated 22nd March 2019)

Valuation of money market and debt securities of short-term maturity:

 Amortisation based valuation of non-traded money market and debt securities, including floating rate securities, with residual maturity of up to 60 days is permitted. In order to make the existing valuation practices for aforesaid securities more reflective of the realisable value, the following has been decided:

  1. The residual maturity for amortisation based valuation shall be reduced from existing 60 days to 30 days.
  2. The amortised price shall be compared with the reference price which shall be the average of the security level price of such security as provided by the agencies appointed by the Association of Mutual Funds of India (AMFI).
  3. The amortised price shall be used for valuation only if it is within a threshold of ±0.025% of the reference price. In case of deviation beyond this threshold, the price shall be adjusted to bring it within the threshold of ±0.025% of the reference price

Valuation of money market and debt securities which are rated below investment grade:

  1. All money market and debt securities, which are rated below investment grade, shall be valued at the price provided by valuation agencies.
  2. Till such time the valuation agencies compute the valuation of money market and debt securities classified as below investment grade, such securities shall be valued on the basis of indicative haircuts provided by these agencies.
  3. In case of trades after the valuation price is computed by the valuation agencies as referred above and where the traded price is lower than such computed price, such traded price shall be considered for the purpose of valuation and the valuation price may be revised accordingly.
  4. The trades referred above shall be of a minimum size as determined by valuation agencies.

Asset Management Companies may deviate from the indicative haircuts or the valuation price for money market and debt securities rated below investment grade provided by the valuation agencies subject specified conditions.

SEBI has introduced certain changes in the norms related to payment of commissions and disclosures for the mutual fund industry. (See circular dated 25th March 2019)

  • The payment of upfront trail commission would be subject to the following:
  • The up fronting of trail commission may be for a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) of up to INR 3000 per month, per scheme, for an investor who is investing for the first time in Mutual Fund schemes.
  • For a new investor, as identified above, only the first SIP purchased by the investor shall be eligible for up-fronting.
  • It has been prescribed that the additional Total Expense Ratio (TER) shall be charged based on inflows from retail investors from beyond top 30 cities (B-30 cities). The term ‘retail investor’ has been defined. Accordingly, it has been decided that inflows of amount up to INR 2,00,000/- per transaction, by individual investors shall be considered as inflows from “retail investor”.
  • In terms of the extant regulations, there shall be no entry load on investment in Mutual Fund schemes (including additional purchases and switch-in to a scheme from other schemes) made after 1st August 2009.The above provision was made applicable to SIPs registered on or after 1st August 2009. It has now been decided to make the provisions of the abovementioned circular applicable to all SIPs including those registered prior to 1st August 2009.
  • With regard to the cost of borrowings in terms of Regulation 44(2) of SEBI (Mutual Funds) Regulations, 1996, it has been decided that for a given scheme, the same shall be adjusted against the portfolio yield of the scheme and borrowing costs in excess of portfolio yield, if any, shall be borne by the AMC.

SEBI has notified the revised formats for Limited Review and Audit Reports of Listed Entities (including those entities whose accounts are to be consolidated with the listed entity), applicable with effect from 1st April 2019, in line with changes suggested by Kotak Committee in the matter of Group Audit. As per the amended SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) (LODR) Regulations, statutory auditors of a listed entity shall undertake a limited review of the audit of all the entities or companies whose accounts are to be consolidated with the listed entity as per Accounting Standard (AS) 21, in accordance with guidelines issued by the SEBI on this matter. (See circular dated 29th March 2019)

Press Releases

Amendments to SEBI InvIT Regulations, 2014 and the SEBI REIT Regulations, 2014

The following amendments were introduced in the SEBI (Infrastructure Investment Trusts) (InvITs) Regulations, 2014 and the SEBI (Real Estate Investment Trusts) (REITs) Regulations, 2014:

  1. Allotment by REITs and InvITs shall be made in the multiples of a lot, each consisting of 100 units. Value of such allotment lot for InvITs shall be INR One lakh and for REITs shall be INR Fifty thousand. After listing, trading will be in multiple of one lot.
  2. The leverage limit for InvITs would be increased from the existing 49% to 70% of InvIT assets. The enhanced limit would be subject to certain additional disclosure and compliance requirements, such as:
    • The consolidated debt of the InvIT and the project debt, would need to have a credit rating of AAA or equivalent from a rating agency registered with SEBI
    • The InvIT should have a minimum track record of 6 distributions on a continuous basis, post listing, in the years just preceding to the Financial Year in which the enhanced borrowings are proposed to be made.
  3. A separate framework for privately placed unlisted InvITs, which provide sufficient flexibility to both issuers and investors would be created.

Framework for IGP

SEBI has approved the framework for the process of accreditation of investors for the purpose of Innovators Growth Platform (IGP). Under the framework, an investor, having a demat account with a depository, will make an application to the stock exchanges or depositories in the manner prescribed by them for recognition as an accredited investor. The exchanges or depositories will grant accreditation to investors subject to their eligibility, which shall be valid for a period of three years.

Corporate Debt Restructuring

Under the SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 2011 (“Takeover Regulations”) any person acquiring control or an equity stake of 25% or above in a listed company is required to make an open offer to the public shareholders. The SEBI Board has approved an exemption from this requirement for acquisitions by Scheduled Commercial Banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks) and all India Financial Institutions as a part of Corporate Debt Restructuring of listed companies.

Such exemptions will not be available for acquisition of shares by persons other than the aforesaid lenders.

Participation of Institutional Investors in Commodity Derivatives Markets in India

SEBI has approved a proposal enabling participation by mutual funds and portfolio managers in Exchange Traded Commodity Derivatives in India subject to certain safeguards.

 Amendments to SEBI (Debenture Trustee) Regulations, 1993, SEBI (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) Regulations, 2008 and SEBI (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements), 2015

The SEBI Board has approved amendments to the regulatory framework for Debenture Trustees (DT), which, include the following:

  1. The minimum net worth requirement of a DT shall be increased from the existing INR 2 crore to INR 10 crore.
  2. The requirement of calling for a meeting of debenture holders in the event of default in payment obligation by the issuer in case of public issue of debt securities would not be obligatory.
  3. E – Voting would be a valid option for DTs to obtain consent of the debenture holders wherever applicable.
  4. In case of delay in creation of charge in favour of DT within the specified period, the issuer shall pay additional interest as specified in the Trust Deed and disclosed in the Offer Document to the debenture holders for the period of delay in creation of charge.
  5. In case of issuers having both listed equity and debt securities, the certificate from the DT as per the requirement of Reg.52 (5) of LODR Regulations shall be submitted to the stock exchanges by the issuer within 7 working days from the date of submission of financial results to the stock exchanges.

Permitting Permanent Registration to Custodians

The SEBI Board has approved the proposal to amend the SEBI (Custodian) Regulations 1996, to grant permanent registration to custodians instead of periodical renewal every three years.

Except in cases of transmission or transposition of securities, requests for effecting transfer of securities shall not be processed unless the securities are held in dematerialised form with a depository. This measure is effective from 1st April 2019. SEBI has clarified as below

  • The above decision does not prohibit the investor from holding the shares in physical form.
  • Any investor wanting to transfer shares (which are held in physical form) after 1st April 2019 can do so only after the shares are dematerialised.
  • The transfer deeds once lodged prior to the deadline and returned due to deficiency in the document may be re-lodged for transfer even after the deadline of 1st April 2019.

The above decision would not be applicable for demat of shares, transmission (i.e. transfer of title of shares by way of inheritance or succession) and transposition (i.e. re-arrangement or interchanging of the order of name of shareholders) cases.

India Market Updates

SEBI has imposed the following fines:

  • a penalty of INR 25 lakhs on Indus Portfolio, a SEBI registered broker, for carrying out reversal of trades in the illiquid stock option segment of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
  • a fine of INR 5 crore on the promoters of Nakoda Limited for failure to make an open offer in compliance with SEBI’s directive given five years ago.
  • a penalty of INR 1.19 crores on twenty-two entities for fraudulent and manipulative trading in illiquid stock options on the BSE.
  • a fine of INR 40 lakhs on the Managing Director and the Director of Sybly Industries in a matter related to manipulation in issuance of Global Depository Receipts (GDRs). The ruling came after SEBI conducted a probe to investigate irregularities in the Company’s allotment of GDRs on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange in June 2008.

At present, SEBI is empowered to undertake inspection of records of market participants in case of violations relating to insider trading and fraudulent or unfair trade practices. SEBI has reportedly sought approval from the Government to broaden its powers to conduct inspection of books of accounts of listed companies to detect any contravention of securities laws without limiting it to violations relating to one or two regulations.


Penalties on Co-operatives Banks

Reserve Bank of India has levied monetary penalty on the following 13 co- operative banks for violation of RBI instructions/guidelines on membership of credit information companies, prudential norms on inter-bank counter party limit, Audit committee of the Board, Income Recognition, Asset Classification, and Provisioning etc.

Sr. No.

Name of the Bank

Amount of Monetary Penalty  (in INR Lakhs)


Urban Co-operative Bank, Badaun, UP



Rani Laxmibai Urban Co-operative Bank, Jhansi, UP



U.P. Postal Primary Co-operative Bank Ltd. Lucknow, UP



Etawah Urban Co-operative Bank, U.P.



Mahoba Urban Co-operative Bank Ltd. UP



Nagar Sahakari Bank Ltd, Etawah, UP



The Urban Co-Operative Bank Ltd, Maunath Bhanjan, UP



National Mercantile Co-operative Bank Ltd. Lucknow, UP



Banaras Mercantile Co-operative Bank Ltd, Varanasi, UP



Lucknow University Primary Co-operative Bank Ltd, UP



The Mahila Vikas Co-operative Bank Ltd, Ahmedabad (Gujarat)



The Tadpatri Co-operative Town Bank Ltd, Tadpatri, Andhra Pradesh



Penalties on Scheduled Co-operative Banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed, by orders dated 31st January 2019 and 25th February 2019, monetary penalty for non-compliance with various directions issued by RBI on time-bound implementation and strengthening of SWIFT-related operational controls on 36 banks as detailed below:


Sr. No.

Name of the bank

Amount of penalty (in Million)



Bank of Baroda




Catholic Syrian Bank Limited




Citibank N.A.




Indian Bank




Karnataka Bank Limited




BNP Paribas




City Union Bank Limited




Indian Overseas Bank




UCO Bank




Union Bank of India




United Bank of India




Allahabad Bank




Bank of Maharashtra




Canara Bank




DCB Bank Limited




Dena Bank




Jammu & Kashmir Bank Limited




Oriental Bank of Commerce




Syndicate Bank




Bank of America N.A.




Barclays Bank Plc




Central Bank of India




Corporation Bank




DBS Bank Limited




Deutsche Bank A.G.




Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited




ICICI Bank Limited




IDBI Bank Limited




IndusInd Bank Limited




JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A.




Karur Vysya Bank Limited




Punjab & Sind Bank




Standard Chartered Bank




State Bank of India




Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Limited




Yes Bank Limited




These penalties have been imposed in exercise of powers vested in RBI under the provisions of Section 47A(1)(c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account failure of the above banks to adhere to the aforesaid directions issued by RBI.

Amalgamation of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda

The government has approved the amalgamation of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda. The scheme has come into force on the 1st day of April 2019.

Share this