The Securities and Exchange Board of India has been able to find just 68 genuine investors from among the details of lakhs of investors the Sahara group has sent to its office.
These are the only people who have responded to mailers from the market regulator and sent complete details of their investment in the two schemes of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation that the Supreme Court has asked to be refunded.
SEBI started mailing the investors in mid-December. The court order to refund about Rs 24,000 crore,which the Sahara group claims was raised from about 3 crore investors,has consequently landed the regulator in a peculiar situation,government sources said.
SEBI has,for instance,found that in a batch of 20,000 mailers it sent to investors based on details given by Sahara,more than 8,000 were returned by India Post with the stamp addressee untraceable.
Similarly,on a website opened by the regulator for investors to send their complaints,about 500 queries were received until the end of February. Yet,when SEBI officials verified them,over 400 were found to be from fictitious addresses. Sahara has,however,contested the SEBI position saying their liability is limited to only providing the address as furnished by applicants while investing.
This means that even as SEBI has begun freezing the assets of the two Sahara companies along with personal assets of group chief Subrata Roy Sahara,there is hardly anyone stepping up to claim the money in Indias allegedly largest Ponzi scheme.
A government source said that based on the present trend,the percentage of genuine investors could turn out to be less than 1 per cent of the total 3 crore claimed by the group in their depositions to SEBI,the Securities Appellate Tribunal and even the Supreme Court.
SEBI has been directed by the Supreme Court to verify the investors and if they do not find any of the investors at their given address (it) is under obligation to give an opportunity to Sahara to satisfactorily establish the genuineness of the investors, Sahara said in response to queries from The Indian Express.
The group claimed there cannot be (even) one fictitious investor…and our workers know each and every investor. It is high time,in the interest of investors,SEBI should also give us chance and importance.
Since September 2012,the group has been sending in trucks loaded with application documents received from the alleged investors in the schemes floated by its two entities.
This was in pursuance of the Supreme Court order which said the money along with an interest rate of 15 per cent must be deposited with SEBI. The regulator has been asked to get the details of the investors from the companies and refund the sum,showing compliance to the court. While the regulator had asked the companies to furnish the information in diskettes or other machine-readable form,it was informed that this would not be possible due to a variety of reasons.
But the regulator now has a larger problem on its hand although Sahara says it has not been informed about it.
Meanwhile,SEBI has begun receiving details from the banks about the frozen assets of the group companies and that of Roy. So far,it has identified funds of about Rs 200 crore lying in various accounts and another Rs 30 crore from the mutual funds floated by the group to take action.