Wow, it really pays to be an Indian guru with the right connections. Check out this story, "SEBI nod for Radha Soami Satsang Beas." (SEBI is the Securities and Exchange Board of India.)
The capital market regulator has granted exemption to Logos Holding Company from making an open offer to the shareholders of Religare Enterprises for its acquisition of 19.53% stake in the company. Logos Holding is an investment arm of the Gurinder Singh Dhillon family.
Gurinder Singh is the current head of one of India's largest religious sect – Radha Soami Satsang Beas. At Thursday's closing price of Rs 460.95, the value of Logos Holding's stake is about Rs 1,163 crore. The Dhillons had acquired the shares at just over Rs 13 crore in 2006.
After someone emailed me a link to this story, naturally I had to grab my calculator, find a rupee to dollar currency converter web site, and figure out how much Rs 1,163 crore and Rs 13 crore are in understandable American dollars. (A crore rupee is 10 million rupees.)
Others can check my work, but I'm pretty sure the Gurinder Singh Dhillon family is the proud possessor of Religare Enterprises shares worth $257,187,507. Let's round it off and say... a quarter of a billion dollars.
That's a lot of money.
Especially compared to what the story says the guru's family paid for the shares: $2,874,839 (Rs 13 crore). Last April I wrote about this in "Religare's money connections with the Radha Soami guru."
Malvinder Singh, an initiate of RSSB, is deeply involved in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas organization, as is the rest of his family.
This helps explain why the RSSB guru's sons, Gurpreet and Gurkirat, each ended up with about 10% of the shares in Religare according to a 2007 prospectus. On page 25 it says that Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh were allotted 49,575,000 equity shares in Religare at 10 rupees (about 23 cents) a share.
Malvinder then transferred 6,250,000 shares to Gurpreet Singh, and Shivinder transferred 6,250,000 shares to Gurkirat Singh under guardianship of Ms. Shabnam Dhillon -- almost certainly because Gurkirat is only twenty years old.
The cost also was 10 rupees a share. So the guru's sons each got 6,250,000 shares of Religare for $1,437,500 or thereabouts through an insider deal.
Multiply $1,437,500 by two and we get $2,875,000. Which is almost exactly what the indianexpress.com story says the guru's family acquired the shares for in 2006.
So this shows that an insider deal (which is legal, and not to be confused with stock trading that involves the illegal use of insider information) resulted in a quick profit for the Gurinder Singh Dhillon family of about $254 million over four years or so.
These financial deals can be viewed in different ways.
Some people see nothing wrong with a guru who is considered to be "God in human form" raking in massive amounts of money from his involvement with Religare, a large Indian financial services group managed in large part by RSSB disciples.
Others resonate with the message of my post, "RSSB's ties to Religare mix money and spirituality."
What I've learned about the dealings between Radha Soami Satsang Beas and Religare doesn't feel right to me.
It definitely goes against the grain of what I used to enjoy about being a member of RSSB: the focus on meditation, mysticism, charitable giving, and service to a spiritual community where everybody did their share, and nobody (seemingly) tried to get more than their share.
That said, maybe I'm old-fashioned.
Maybe I don't understand how modern-day gurus and their relatives can engage in insider trading deals with disciples while still remaining true to their philosophical principles. Maybe I'm missing the benefit to RSSB of having an inner circle derive large financial benefits that aren't available to other initiates.
All I know is that philosophically and ethically, there are reasons for concern here.