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Subrata Roy starts asset sale talks from Tihar Jail

August 06, 2014 10:05 IST

Subrata Roy starts asset sale talks from Tihar Jail

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Sahil Makkar & N Sundaresha Subramanian in Tihar Jail/ New Delhi

Subrata Roy met 3 potential buyers for an hour amid tight security.

A few bags on steel chairs, a hanger with a black coat and ironed shirts were in a corner of a large hall the size of a tennis court.

In the other, security personnel were talking. Metal detector and equipment were being set up for Tihar Jail's most-high-profile inmate Subrata Roy.

The Sahara group chief was moved to this facility at 7 am on Tuesday from his cell in jail number three. He is in a conference room behind a battalion, waiting for prospective buyers.

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Image: Subrata Roy.
Photographs: Reuters
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It was 10.30 am and not a single outsider had visited him.

When Business Standard reporters visited the premises, officials were finalising details.

Only one in casual wear who seemed his assistant was strolling inside the chocolate-colour single-storey building on the southern perimeter of Asia's largest prison.

A blue-and-white board on the top of the building read Delhi State Legal Services Authority.

It could have been mistaken for one of the upper middle class houses in West Delhi.

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Image: A policeman walks inside Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
Photographs: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

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A stone's throw from the office of the Tihar Jail director-general and a few metres from the entrance, the place is ideal for high-profile visitors. 

Even as Roy and his staff were settling, some jail staff were still working on the garden in front. They were asked to sign on a register before passing through the metal detectors and getting anywhere close to the court building.

With Roy, group directors Ashok Roy Chaudhary and Ravi Shankar Dubey were moved to the facility in the morning. The three support staff, two secretaries and a technical assistant, joined them soon. 

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Photographs: Reuters

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"Two to three people met him," said sources.

"Discussions went on for an hour." Not all deal makers would need to come in person. Inside the building is a conference hall, where Roy will be able to remotely connect to potential buyers in India and abroad. While the support staff would have to leave the premises by night, Roy would be able to continue his discussions into the night, sources said. The Supreme Court had permitted Roy to stay overnight in the hall to enable him to talk to buyers for assets' sale. 

At the rear end of the building was an open space with some cylinders and provisions. A board said T J Canteen.

Roy, his associates and potential negotiators would be able to get vegetarian food the jail canteen would prepare from here. 

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Image: Inmates prepare cookies at a bakery inside the Tihar Jail complex in New Delhi.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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The Supreme Court has allowed Roy, in jail since March 4, to negotiate the sale from this makeshift facility for 10 days. 

The group first plans to raise money to fulfil the conditions for the interim bail. The court would grant bail on the condition the group deposits Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), one half in cash and the other in bank guarantee. 

Roy and the two directors were sent to jail by the apex court in March to secure compliance of its August 2012 order to repay the Rs 24,029 crore (Rs 240.29 billion) raised from 29.6 million with an interest of 15 per cent by depositing it to Sebi. 

Sahara has argued that it has repaid the money to investors directly. But the Sebi and court have not accepted this argument. Last week, Sebi told the court that the dues have now swelled to Rs 39,000 crore (Rs 390 billion).


Photographs: Reuters

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