Sebi has refused to grant a stay on forensic audit of pre-school chain Tree House Education and Accessories in a matter related to alleged misrepresentation of the financials of the firm.
Moreover, the regulator has directed the entities to “extend cooperation” to the auditor appointed for inspecting the books of accounts of the firm to enable them to finalise the report within three months.
“I do not find any tenable ground made out by the Noticees (Tree House and other entities) to vacate or revoke the interim direction to conduct the forensic audit of its books of accounts,” Sebi Whole Time Member G Mahalingam said in a 17-page fresh order dated November 16.
The entities had moved SAT (Securities and Appellate Tribunal) against the Sebi’s interim order and the tribunal in August had asked the regulator to pass confirmatory order after hearing the entities.
In an interim order passed in March, the regulator had banned Tree House, its promoters, Rajesh Bhatia, Geeta Bhatia and Giridharilal S Bhatia along with two other officials from the securities market “till further directions.”
The interim order also had directed the NSE to appoint an independent forensic auditor to verify any misrepresentation of financials and business of Tree House as well as any misuse of the funds or manipulation of books of accounts.
Besides, it also has to verify any wrongful diversion or siphoning of company funds by Tree House through significant related party transaction with educational trusts controlled by Giridharilal S Bhatia and inflated expenditures on furniture and fixtures, among others.
Taking cognisance of several media reports alleging irregularities in the functioning and operations of Tree House in December 2016, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) initiated an investigation in the affairs of the firm.