SEBI hot on heels,hunt begins for Sahara assets in Gujarat

Business group was asked by SC to return Rs 24,000 crore to investors,which it has not done so far.

Written by Gopal Kateshiya | Vadodara | Published:March 6, 2013 5:31 am

Business group was asked by SC to return Rs 24,000 crore to investors,which it has not done so far.

A land parcel worth Rs 600 crore in Vadodara and similar properties belonging to the Sahara Group in other parts of Gujarat have come under the scanner after Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) ordered to attach all movable and immovable properties of the two group companies and their promoters and directors for not complying with a Supreme Court order of returning Rs 24,000 crore to investors last month.

“After receiving a letter from SEBI,we have ordered verification of properties of the group in the district. We shall take necessary steps if the property is found in the name of two group firms mentioned by SEBI,” a top officer in Vadodara district administration said Tuesday.

The market regulator had passed an order on February 13 to attach properties of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited (SHICL). The same order applies to properties of Subrata Roy Sahara,chairman of the group,Vandana Bhargava,Ashok Roy Choudhary and R S Dubey,directors of the twin firms.

According to sources in district administration,Sahara owns around 100 acres of land worth around Rs 600 crore in Sayajipura village on the outskirts of the city. The group had reportedly bought the land some 15 years ago for a housing project.

The officer said mamlatdars in the district had been ordered to verify these properties. “If the inquiry finds the properties in the name of the two firms or persons against whom SEBI has initiated action,we shall pass restrictive orders on them,” he added.

The action comes after the special enforcement cell of SEBI emailed letters to district collectors of Vadodara and Ahmedabad,among others,on February 21,requesting them not to allow transfer of any property of the twin firms and that of the persons associated with them.

A top revenue officer of Ahmedabad also told The Indian Express that the Sahara Group owns a plot of land in Shilaj on the outskirts of the city. “We have received the letter and we have identified this one property. Subordinate revenue officers have been ordered to find out other properties of the group and report to us,” the officer said on the condition of anonymity. Sahara also has a township project in Ahmedabad.

According to SEBI,the two group companies had collected Rs 6,380 crore and Rs 19,400 crore respectively from investors allegedly committing various illegalities.

The market regulator had ordered the two firms to return Rs 24,000 crore to investors. However,the group had challenged the SEBI order before the Supreme Court in 2011. In its verdict in August last year,the apex court upheld SEBI order and asked Sahara to return the money to investors with 15 per cent interest via SEBI.

In December last year,SC allowed Sahara to refund the money to investors in three installments,beginning with an immediate payment of Rs 5,120 crore. While the first installment of Rs 10,000 crore was to be paid in the first week of January,the remaining sum was to be paid by the first week of February this year. However,SEBI order of February 13 states that the Group has deposited neither of the two installments with it.

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