The former chief executive of India’s largest bourse made crucial decisions by consulting and sending confidential information to a yogi.
Chitra Ramkrishna sought advice from a spiritual guru in the Himalayas while head of the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) says.
According to the board she allegedly shared business plans, board meeting agendas and financial projections with the unnamed guru.
Ms Ramkrishna quit the bourse in 2016.
The SEBI said a probe “clearly showed” that the yogi was running the NSE, and Ms Ramkrishna was “merely a puppet in his hands” until the end of her time in the role.
“The sharing of financial and business plans of NSE… is a glaring, if not unimaginable, act that could shake the very foundations of the stock exchange,” the regulator said.
SEBI fined Ms Ramkrishna 30m rupees (£293,186; $396,975) and banned her for three years from working with any bourse or any firm registered with the regulator as an intermediary.
In a submission to SEBI, Ms Ramkrishna said she met the yogi on the banks of India’s Ganges River nearly two decades ago.
Ms Ramkrishna said she had sought his advice on “many personal and professional matters” ever since.
“As we know, senior leaders often seek informal counsel from coaches, mentors or other seniors in this industry which are all purely informal in nature. In a similar strain I felt that this guidance would help me perform my role better,” she said.
SEBI called Ms Ramkrishna’s actions a “glaring breach of regulations”, and said her views that her actions did not cause any harm to the market were “absurd”.
The regulator said it had come across email exchanges between the guru and Ms Ramkrishna during an earlier investigation into the NSE.
Ms Ramkrishna, who was among the executives who started the NSE in the early 1990s, cited “personal reasons” when she left the exchange in 2016.