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Rediff.com  » Business » Sahara owns several luxury apartments, assets abroad

Sahara owns several luxury apartments, assets abroad

October 16, 2015 10:30 IST

Other London properties, aircraft & offshore accounts are yet to catch the attention of regulators.

Image: Subrata Roy (R), chairman, Sahara India, with his wife Swapna Roy. Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters
 

While marquee hotel assets such as London's Grosvenor House and New York's Plaza have hogged the limelight, documents reviewed by Business Standard show the Sahara group owns several other luxury apartments and assets abroad.

These include a fleet of luxury aircraft and offshore accounts operated through its subsidiaries Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd, the entity floated to purchase hotel assets abroad.

Business Standard also has details of two offshore accounts, in Mauritius and Singapore.

These properties, some of which are used by Sahara chief Subrata Roy's elder son Sushanto Roy, now based in London, have escaped the attention of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and the Supreme Court, which has issued a notice to the Sahara group on a receivership petition by Sebi.

ESCAPING THE GLARE

An email sent to a Sebi spokesperson on October 9, asking whether the regulator was aware of these assets and whether it had initiated any action on these, did not elicit any response. 

 

Consultants say the combined worth of these properties could run into hundreds of crores.

According to a 2011 mortgage agreement between Sahara Grosvenor Hospitality (the holding company of Grosvenor House) and Bank of China, reviewed by Business Standard, the group owned at least nine properties in prime localities in central London.

Whiile some were in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace, the others were close to Grosvenor House.

Two properties in Reeves Mews were owned by the holding company, while others were leased out by Sahara Grosvenor Hospitality from other Sahara group entities. Sahara entities also own three flats at Palace Street, a property at Buckingham Gate, and three in Lensbury Avenue.

Image: New York's Plaza Hotel Photograph: Reuters
 

According to a property portal, Buckingham Gate, a street in south-west London, is a prime location near Buckingham Palace in the heart of Victoria, an established London sub-market.

Many high-profile companies, such as Channel 4, Microsoft and Google, are housed in the area.

Property consultants said rates in central London stand at £1,000-1,700/sq ft, depending on the sub-location and other features. Prices of individual apartments could be £2-20 million, depending upon the size and location.

Further, OT Global Holdings, a British Virgin Islands-based subsidiary of Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd, owns five luxury aircraft, three of which are Embraer Legacy 650s. The firm also owns an Embraer Lineage 1000 and a Cessna Citation XLS. 

Image: Subrata Roy is escorted by police to a court in Lucknow. Photograph: Reuters
 

A Sahara spokesperson said the properties in London were used as guest houses for business relating to Grosvenor House, while the aircraft were leased to third-party charters.

He did not comment on the valuation of these properties. The spokesperson added the properties belonged to "certain subsidiaries of our international hospitality holding company in Mauritius, called Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd. These properties have been leased to Sahara Grosvenor House Hospitality Ltd (which owns Grosvenor House Hotel). The said properties are used as a guest house-cum-office for the asset management of Grosvenor House Hotel and the Formula One set-up there".

The Reeves Mews properties were part of Grosvenor House Development and had been sub-leased to third parties by Marriott (the operator), Sahara said.

The spokesperson added OT Global, a subsidiary of Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd "does own five aircraft, two of which are already mortgaged to international lenders. These aircraft have been leased to third parties who charter these".

Image: Properties in London were used as guest houses for business relating to Grosvenor House. Photograph: Reuters
 

He also confirmed the details of foreign bank accounts Business Standard had sought details about.

"The bank accounts mentioned by you are not personal bank accounts. The Barclays Bank account in Singapore was in the name of a company that is a subsidiary of Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd. The account was closed by Barclays Bank about two years ago. Subrata Roy Sahara, on behalf of the subsidiary, was only a signatory to the bank account." 

The group added the other bank account in Mauritius, too, wasn't an individual bank account but in the name of a subsidiary of Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd.

"Sandeep Wadhwa and Vijay Dogra are just bank account signatories appointed by the said subsidiary. These bank accounts are in the name of overseas subsidiaries of Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd. The said companies are foreign companies and tax residents in their own countries. Therefore, these companies aren't subject to taxes in India, as they fulfil all tax residency requirements in their offshore jurisdictions and are subject to tax assessment in those jurisdictions."

N Sundaresha Subramanian in New Delhi
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