What Harshad Mehta did? – The Stock Scam

In the early 1990s, the banks in India had to maintain a particular amount of their deposits in government bonds. This ratio was called SLR ( Statutory Liquidity Ratio). Each bank had to submit a detailed sheet of its balance at the end of the day and also show that there was a sufficient amount invested in government bonds. Now, the government decided that the banks need not show their details on each day, they need to do it only on Fridays. Also, there was an extra clause that said that the average %age of bond holdings over the week needs to be above the SLR but the daily %age need not be so. That meant that banks would sell bonds in the earlier part of the week and then buy bonds back at the end of the week. The capital freed in the starting of the week could then be invested. Now, at the end of the week many banks would be desperate to buy bonds back. This is where the broker comes in. The broker knew which bank had more bonds (called ‘plus’) and which has less than the required amount (called ‘short’). He then acts as the middleman between the two banks. Harshad Mehta was one such broker. He worked as a middle man between many banks for a long time and gained the trust of the banks’ senior management. Lets say that there are two banks A (short) and B (plus). Now what Harshad Mehta did was that he told the banker at A that he was dealing with many banks and hence did not know who would he deal in the end with. So he said that the bank should write the cheque in his name rather than the other bank (which was forbidden by law), so that he could make the payment to whichever bank was required. Since he was a trusted broker, the banks agreed. Then, going back to the example of bank A and B, he took the money from A and went to B and said that he would pay the money on the next day to B but he needed the bonds right now (for A). But he offered a 15 % return for bank B for the one day extension. Bank B readily agreed with this since it was getting such a nice return

Now since Harshad Mehta was dealing with many banks at the same time he could then keep some capital with him at all times. For eg. He takes money from A on Monday, .. Continued

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