“Nope, all cut me down, after I lost my position, not paying [giving business], no use for them,” said Viresh Joshi, disgraced former chief trader of Axis Mutual Fund (Axis MF), in a Whatsapp chat with The Ken. The dejection in Joshi’s tone was at once a reflection of a stunning reversal of fortunes for a high-flier trader and a cautionary lesson for others.   

Last May, Joshi was sacked by his employer Axis MF—India’s seventh largest mutual-fund house with assets under management (AUM) of over Rs 2.5 lakh crore (~US$30 billion)—for his alleged involvement in a front-running front-running Front-running The practice by market-makers of dealing on advance information provided by their brokers and investment analysts, before their clients have been given the information. scandal. The fraud, one of the largest of its kind, came to light in May 2022, by when market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had also begun probing. 

On 28 February 2023, a 96-page interim order order Sebi Interim Order-cum-Show Cause Notice in the matter of Front Running of the Trades of Axis Mutual Fund Read more by Sebi detailed the scandal’s modus operandi—an extensive web spread across the underbelly of India’s financial markets, shady offshore entities in Dubai, and involving information carriers, arrangers, enablers, angadias angadias Angadia The Angadia system is a century-old parallel banking system in the country where traders send cash generally from one state to another through a person called Angadia that stands for courier.  and burner phones. 

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At the heart of this blow-up is Joshi—a larger-than-life Mumbai-based trader. 

The Sebi order is replete with evidentiary details, including videos, audio recordings, and Whatsapp conversations which pull back the veil on how the scam was carried out. The case is still under investigation, and Sebi has barred 21 individuals and entities from the markets until further orders. It has also ordered impounding Rs 30.6 crore (~US$3.7 million) of wrongful gains. 

Joshi—the main accused—is a constant fixture across the interim order, with some accomplices calling him “Jadugar”—the Hindi word for “magician”.