Sebi quizzes Sahara chief Subrata Roy, seeks asset details
Mumbai: Sebi on Wednesday questioned Sahara chief Subrata Roy and three other top executives about their assets for refund of an estimated Rs 24,000 crore collected from more than three crore bond holders, but the group hit back claiming it was the regulator which is delaying repayments.
Sebi summoned Roy, Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Vandana Bhargava-- directors of two Sahara firms-- for their personal appearance this afternoon to finalise a list of their assets and that of companies which could be sold to generate money to refund investors.
Roy and others were asked by Sebi whether they had any additional assets beyond those already declared by them, to which Sahara executives replied in negative, sources said. They added that the regulator may pass another order soon detailing its actions towards realisation of funds.
A chaotic scene was seen outside the Sebi headquarters as large number of media persons had gathered to report Roy's appearance before the market regulator.
Roy, after his and his colleagues hour-long personal appearance, told reporters that he was asked about his personal assets and not about the refund.
He also hit back at Sebi for questioning the veracity of investors on previous occasions, saying the regulator had alluded that accounts were fictitious even before starting the verification process.
"They have called me for my personal assets, but they would be puzzled on knowing it," Roy said, while listing out his personal assets.
"Including gold ornaments and stones, all is Rs 3 crore. Cash and bank (balance) is Rs 34 lakh and fixed deposits is Rs 1.59 crore. And for buying sugar mills at Badauli, I had taken an advance of Rs 11 crore. My immovable property is nil," he claimed.
The Sahara chief also accused Sebi of delaying the refund process, saying the regulator was not taking any initiatives for returning the Rs 5,120 crore deposited with it.
As per Sebi, Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) raised Rs 6,380 crore and Rs 19,400 crore respectively from bond holders and "various illegalities" were committed in raising these funds.
In an order dated August 31, 2012, Supreme Court had asked the two companies to refund more than Rs 24,000 crore raised by them from over three crore bond holders, while Sebi was asked to facilitate the refund after verifying the genuineness of investors.
Sahara group, however, claims that its total outstanding liability is less than Rs 5,120 crore deposited with Sebi, as it has already paid back most of the investors directly.
During their personal appearance, Roy and other executives were asked to produce original title deeds of all assets and investments of the two firms.
The summons were issued by Sebi on March 26 to examine them for ascertaining details of their personal assets, as also the investments and assets of the companies, to move ahead with sale of immovable assets for realisation of money to be refunded to the investors.
After Supreme Court said that the market regulator was free to freeze accounts and attach properties if Sahara group firms were not depositing the money with it for refund to investors, Sebi on February 13, 2013 ordered freezing of accounts and attachment of assets.
Sebi had said that it would ex-parte settle the terms of proclamation of sale of their and the companies' assets in case the four persons failed to appear before it.
Incidentally, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) is scheduled to hear later this week, on April 13, appeals filed by Subrata Roy and others against a previous Sebi order for attachment of their bank accounts, assets and investments.
These properties include those related to the group's Aambey Valley resort town near Pune, other real estate assets in Delhi, Mumbai and at other places across the country, shares, mutual funds and various other investments.
Later this month, the Supreme Court would also hear a plea by Sebi seeking orders for Roy's arrest and barring him from leaving the country.
During today's personal appearance, Roy and others were asked to submit original title deeds of assets and investors held in their personal capacity and by SIRECL and SHICL.
When asked whether he has submitted the list of assets as asked by Sebi, Roy said: "Yes, we have."
"I was asked whether we have any assets apart from the one disclosed and whether I wish to add anything. I replied back saying the assets which I declared are the only ones I have. They asked me about my personal assets," he said.
Roy further said that he has requested for joint efforts by Sebi and Sahara to speed up the verification process.
"Sebi has alluded that the accounts are fictitious, but unless you verify the accounts, how will you know? I've requested them to start the verification, but I don't know what will happen ahead," he said.
Roy further said that he told Sebi about his concern for the people who were yet to get the money.
"In the last seven months, you have not taken any initiative wherein the money can be distributed to the investors. Not just that, you have also not taken any efforts to verify (the investor details) as well," he said.
Roy accused Sebi of rather spending time in "media trial" and other things.
"I request them to kindly look into these two things (verification and refund) seriously. Until the verification is complete, our money will be stuck with them. Sebi is not taking any action on that front. Start the verification so that the money can be released/distributed," he said.
Roy said that the three directors answered the queries related to the two Sahara entities.