Religare vs Burmans: ED may summon Rashmi Saluja amid SEBI lens on 2 cr ESOPS

SEBI, last week, initiated an inquiry into allegations against Saluja for cornering “a significant quantum of remuneration” via ESOPS from Religare Enterprises, Care Health Insurance Limited and Religare Finvest Limited (RFL). The SEBI asked Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) to start investigations against Saluja.

| Updated: 20 February, 2024 6:34 pm IST
Rashmi Saluja, who is Religare Enterprises chairperson, faces SEBI inquiry over ESOPS

NEW DELHI: Enforcement Directorate (ED) sources have said that they may summon National banking financial company (NBFC) Religare chairperson Dr Rashmi Saluja, a medical doctor by profession, after Securities Exchange Board For India (SEBI) has launched a probe into 2.14 crore shares of the insurance unit allotted to her via Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

SEBI, last week, initiated an inquiry into allegations against Saluja for cornering “a significant quantum of remuneration” via ESOPS from Religare Enterprises, Care Health Insurance Limited and Religare Finvest Limited (RFL). The SEBI asked Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) to start investigations against Saluja.

“We are probing all angles of fund diversion before 2016 and after that on the basis of complaint and FIRs registered before Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in Delhi Police. During our searches, we had quizzed Rashmi Saluja on January 5. We will record fresh statements of everyone in Religare,” said ED sources.

Saluja, the 49-year-old MD in medicine who was appointed in the embattled NBFC company, is drawing a whopping annual salary of Rs 42.06 crore despite having no prior experience in leading any investment company or financial services.

A screen grab showing Rashmi Saluja’s salary of whooping 42 Cr.

In 2023, Saluja sought a further 10% increase in her remuneration, taking her salary four-fold to the next in-command Nitin Aggarwal, who serves Religare as Group Chief Financial officer (at Rs 10.11 crore), followed by Nishant Singhal (Rs 6.41 crore as President and general counsel), Rajesh Sharma (Rs 4.29 crore as President for internal audit) and Shalabh Garg (Rs 1.29 crore as SVP for information technology).

According to documents in possession of The New Indianthe only other executive to seek a hike more than Saluja at Religare is her company secretary. Reena Jayara was given an approval for 28.57 % pay hike.

RELATED STORY: After Mahadev betting & Religare row, CBI lens on Burmans of Dabur

While the percentage increase in median remuneration of employees in 2023 was 32.5 %, Saluja’s remuneration ratio as compared to employees stands at 44:1.

The 49-year-old Religare chairperson was just a medical professional serving at Jessa Ram and Ganga Ram hospitals while holding degrees in MBBS and MD, her appointment as a director in September 2019 mentions explicitly.

IRDA had, already in November, summoned two  officials of Religare’s Care Health Insurance Ltd  — Anuj Gulati and Anoop Singh — to explain the excessive stock options given to Saluja despite no clearance.

These accusations stem at a time when Burmans are facing scrutiny from CBI, ED and Mumbai Police into Mahadev App betting scam, accusations over share manipulation and ploughing back money of Beas-dera sect head Gurinder Singh Dhillon.

RELATED STORY| EXPLOSIVE: SEBI starts probe on Burmans of Dabur amid “Radha Soami’s monies” accusations

 

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