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Project Apostle: The EY probe that nailed Chitra's Yogi

Project Apostle: The EY probe that nailed Chitra's Yogi

The Project Apostle summary provides some answers to the two key questions that the NSE had tasked EY to find answers for.

Former NSE chief Chitra Ramkrishna Former NSE chief Chitra Ramkrishna

The four-pages of the executive summary of Project Apostle, the code name of a 'private and confidential' forensic investigation by consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY), provide near irrefutable evidence that Anand Subramanian was the person leading Chitra Ramakrishna -- the most powerful woman of India's stock markets -- up the garden path.

Subramanian, a modern-day Rasputin-like figure, seems to have digitally manufactured the persona of the 'Himalayan Yogi' who seemingly provided spiritual guidance to Ramakrishna in lessening her burden of running the technology driven National Stock Exchange (NSE).

There are many layers to this tale and until all are revealed, the Project Apostle summary provides some answers to the two key questions that the NSE had tasked EY to find answers for.

The two questions were -- what was the nature of the confidential information that was shared with the email identity 'rigyajursama@outlook.com' and who was the person who was using this email account to communicate with Ramakrishna, the managing director and CEO of the exchange.

The draft summary report, accessed by Business Today TV, reveals the strong footprints left in the digital sands of time by the daring duo. It is these very footprints that helped the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) nail Subramanian and arrest him. As more information tumbles out during his custodial interrogation, the probe is sure to gather pace and provide answers to many more puzzles in this messy saga.

The murky affair harks back to Chitra's appointment to the top job at NSE on Fool's Day, 2013. As is well known, Subramanian tagged along with her, joining the exchange on the very same day as chief strategic advisor at a handsome salary package of Rs 1.68 crore per year. He was subsequently promoted to the position of group operating officer of the exchange.

Among the key observations in the EY report is the nugget that multiple emails from the rigyajursama@outlook.com account were also marked to Subramanian's personal email account 'aanand_s@hotmail.com'. 

The emails included data on NSE's five-year financial projections, dividend pay-out ratio, business plans, the agenda of board meetings and employee appraisals.

While the EY investigators efforts to trace the source IP (internet protocol) led them to a Microsoft outlook server, other 'electronically stored information' led them to conclude that the email traffic between Chitra's official NSE email account and rigyajursama@outlook.com was with none other than Subramanian.

In support of this thesis, the report reveals that the Skype profile used on Subramanian's NSE desktop profile was linked to the 'rigyajursama' email account.

Investigators reviewed the desktop assigned to Subramanian at his Chennai residence and found a user profile "sanand" that was used to configure two Skype accounts.

The two Skype accounts -- 'anand subramaniang' and 'sironmani.10' -- were configured on Windows profile called 'sanand'. The probe notes that only a user having knowledge of the login credentials of the 'sanand' profile could have accessed these Skype accounts.

The report notes that as per the signup requirements of Skype, a new user needs to provide a mobile number as a pre-requisite for setting up a Skype account. A security code is shared on the number through SMS to complete the registration (alternatively the same can be done through email).

This, the probe states, indicates that the individual may need to have access to either email id or cell phone number (or both) before using that user profile.

Interestingly, not only was the Skype account with the user profile name "sironmani.10" linked to rigyajusama@outlook.com, the mobile number used for the sign-up was +91-9167577412.

Evidence, including itemized cell phone bills, provided by the NSE to the investigators show that while this mobile was registered in the name of an administration manager of the exchange, the number was actually assigned to Subramanian during his tenure at the exchange. This apart, another document related to a statutory filing by Subramanian mentions the same mobile number as belonging to him.

Also, Skype chats (with Chitra Subramanian) from the Skype account 'sironmani.10' that were retrieved from Subramanian's desktop, indicated that the language used in the chats was similar to that used by Rigyajursama in emails.

As an example, on November 4, 2015, chat messages from 'sironmani.10' to Chitra's cell phone number used the word 'chitsom', the exact same word also used on emails to Chitra from the Rigyajursama account. Further, document properties of attachments sent by Rigvajursama with the emails indicated the author and last modifier to be 'Anand/Subramanian Anand'.

As many as 17 emails (that had at least one email attachment) were sent by Rigyajursama to Chitra. Of these, nine emails had word, excel documents as attachments.

When the EY team reviewed the document properties, it was found that in eight out of the nine documents, the properties highlighted the last modifier and/or the author of the attachments to be 'Subramanian Anand/ Anand'.

Additionally, geotag details of images in some attachments indicate that the sender's location was just 13-metres from Subramanian's Chennai residential address.

The report also reveals that a hotel booking for the 'Himalayan Yogi' was paid for by Subramanian.

Also read: Chitra Ramkrishna case: Anand Subramanian's wife also received hefty pay package

Also read: Chitra Ramkrishna case: Anand Subramanian arrested by CBI in NSE probe