Monday, Nov 24, 2014

Sahara runs into trouble over valuation of land

The observations are part of the Sebi documents filed with the court. (Reuters) The observations are part of the Sebi documents filed with the court. (Reuters)
Written by Subhomoy Bhattacharjee | New Delhi | Posted: May 12, 2014 3:02 am | Updated: May 12, 2014 3:03 am

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India has found that of the allegedly nearly Rs 6,000 crore of land Sahara Group has claimed it owned in submissions to the Supreme Court, the actual value turns out to be only Rs 307 crore.

In all, from about the Rs 11,000 crore of collateral land titles the group has submitted to the courts, a Sebi examination shows the actual valuation of those properties will not be more than Rs 1,000 crore.

To buttress its claims the Sahara Group has apparently filed valuation reports, which are far in excess of their actual value. This includes a claim of Rs 423.30 crore for a land parcel it had bought in Jhansi for just Rs 8.70 crore. The price multiple it has used is nearly 49 for this piece. Similarly a land parcel bought for only Rs 6.46 crore in Bareilly has jumped as per Sahara to Rs 329 crore.

A record of the claims made for 49 such pieces painstakingly evaluated by Sebi chief UK Sinha’s team for the past several months show that the multiples range between 36 to a stratospheric 57 for them.

In another bunch of land records the Sebi examination showed the “total indexed value of consideration paid in respect of 46 locations is Rs 508 crore which is however valued by the Saharas at Rs 5,291 crore”.

The observations are part of the Sebi documents filed with the court. These note that “during the course of examination, it was observed that even lands that have been purchased in the year 2012 and 2013 have been valued as high as 15.64 times to its cost”.

These title deeds were submitted by various Sahara group companies from about 70 locations all over the country. The group valued these lands at about Rs 19,000 crore.

Along with its claim of Rs 1,169 crore for land at Vasai, the group said it had submitted properties worth about Rs 20,172.53 crore as surety towards the refund of its bonds to depositors which the Supreme Court had declared illegal. Since the group has not been able to refund the money so far despite the Supreme Court order, its chief Subrata Roy has been jailed.

Among the land parcels, the valuation reports have found major weakness with the properties of Aamby Valley Ltd., Pune, estimated at Rs10,995 crore by the group.

“It appears that the deeds are based on false declarations and the title of the land may not be clear and parts of it may be forest land… also in several of the documents, the person executing the documents is not the owner of property but his constituted attorney. The constituted attorney is the officer/director of Sahara. In some cases, the deeds themselves note that the constituted attorney is the officer of Saharas”.

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