India to probe beneficial ownership of money from investment hubs
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will scrutinize investment hubs such as Singapore, the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Ireland, for investments originating from China and Hong Kong.
Investments from China, Hong Kong, and 11 other countries may find its way to India through these investment hubs.
The regulator is examining the beneficial ownership information of investments coming from these countries.
"India cannot afford to have FPIs which enter and exit its markets, driven by factors other than market conditions," Viraj Kulkarni, Pivot Management Consulting's founder and CEO, said.
Mainland managers are using Hong Kong as a launchpad to gain access to overseas markets.
Hong Kong investments are then routed through the Cayman Islands.
Companies from the Cayman Islands account for nearly half of all those listed ones on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) mainboard by the end of 2017.
The majority of the ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of investments in funds set up in Hong Kong are mainland investors.
Meanwhile, since the majority of the promoters and fund managers in Singapore are citizens with Chinese roots, it would be difficult to ascertain if the beneficiaries are Chinese.
Ireland and Luxembourg, which are popular offshore fund jurisdictions, attract Chinese investments.
There are 1,155 Chinese foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from Luxembourg, 611 from Ireland, 428 from Singapore, and 323 from the Cayman Islands.
In comparison, there are only 16 FPIs from China that are registered in India.
It was more difficult for the Chinese to invest in India a few years back when all licenses given to FPIs had to be reviewed by Sebi.
But, due to the 2014 amendment of FPI regulations, the process of receipt and review shifted from Sebi to the designated depository participants, resulting in more lenient reviews.
Currently, a holding by an FPI should not be over 10 percent of the listed entity's paid-up capital. Sebi may lower this ceiling for FPIs with Chinese UBOs.