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Sahara property sale: SC tells Sebi to ensure transparency

July 04, 2014 09:43 IST

Sahara property sale: SC tells Sebi to ensure transparency

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BS Reporter in New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India to come up with safeguards to verify transparency in the sale of properties of the Sahara group.

The group is selling property to raise a particular sum for the release of its chief Subrata Roy, in Tihar jail since March 4.

The new Bench to which the Chief Justice had assigned the Sahara cases adjourned the hearing till Friday afternoon so that Sebi could respond to the Sahara group’s new proposals to raise Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) for the release of Roy and two directors.

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Image: The Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy (C) arrives at the Supreme Court in New Delhi March 4, 2014.
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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The Bench, comprising T S Thakur, Anil Dave and A K Sikri, said the court had to monitor the sales so that there was no mischief in the transactions.

The judges said they had no expertise in this field and, therefore, Sebi must involve financial experts and independent valuers to ensure there were no underhand dealings.

The Sahara counsel told the Bench the group had sold a property in Ahmedabad and needed an additional Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) to raise the Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) required for Roy’s release.

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Image: Subrata Roy with Sahara employees.
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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Eight more properties have been released from the court embargo so that Sahara can raise the required amount.

Three hotels -- one in London and two in New York -- are also proposed to be sold, though mortgages involving Bank of China are hurdles in the sale.

On Friday, the court will take up the release of Roy and the two directors, along with several other applications relating to the sale of properties.

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Image: Sahara group chief Subrata Roy being taken to Tihar jail.
Photographs: Reuters

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Sebi counsel Pratap Venugopal said senior counsel Arvind Datar would present Sebi’s view on the transactions.

According to the regulator, the obligation of the Sahara group had run up to Rs 38,000 crore (Rs 380 billion), along with interest on the investments.

The court wants the entire amount to be returned to investors.

Sahara companies, however, have been struggling to raise even the Rs 10,000 crore (Rs 100 billion) needed to release its senior executives.

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Image: Subroto Roy (R), chairman, Sahara India, with his wife Swapna Roy.
Photographs: Reuters

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