Sahara freeze order gets Sebi Rs 52 cr in cash, investments
New Delhi: Market regulator Sebi has been able to get hold of cash and investments totalling about Rs 52 crore and details of more than 450 acres of land so far through its attachment orders against Sahara group entities.
In the high-profile case involving refund of over Rs 24,000 crore to the bondholders of two Sahara companies, Sebi had passed orders for attachment of various properties and freezing of accounts in February after the entities failed to deposit the entire money.
The cash totalling over Rs 23 crore, received from various banks pursuant to these orders, has been invested in a term deposit for now, while investments worth about Rs 28 crore in mutual funds and demat accounts have also been frozen, sources said.
After passing its attachment orders, Sebi informed all the banks, depositories, mutual funds and NBFCs, among others, about the matter and also requested RBI to direct the chiefs of the banks to transfer the money of Sahara firms to a designated Sebi account.
Sebi had also approached the Collectors of as many as 600 districts to request them not to permit the concerned Sahara entities and persons from any sale or transfer of properties attached by the regulator.
As a result, the District Collectors and Revenue Officers from various parts of the country have provided Sebi details of more than 450 acres of land belonging to Saharas, sources added.
The regulator has already asked the Supreme Court to allow it to appoint an Officer of Special Duty and other officers to deal with the objections and claims relating to the property to be sold and for conducting the sale of the property to garner funds for refunding the investors' money.
Saharas have so far deposited Rs 5,120 crore with Sebi towards the refund and claims that this amount is more than sufficient to meet the outstanding liabilities towards its bondholders as the group has already paid close to Rs 20,000 crore directly to the investors.
The money was raised by Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd and Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd from about three crore investors through issuance of certain bonds.
However, these claims have been disputed by Sebi before the Supreme Court, which is expected to resume hearing the case next month. In the meantime, Sebi has begun the process for refund of the money to the genuine investors after verifying their credentials.
A pilot study conducted by Sebi for ascertaining the genuineness of investor documents submitted by Sahara, however, found that close to 99 per cent of the bondholders were untraceable, said the sources.
Under this programme, Sebi sent out redemption notices inviting claims to more than 21,000 bondholders but it received less than 300 claims, which are currently under examination.
While more than 7000 notices returned undelivered, there was no response in respect of over 13,000 notices. Sebi will refer these case to Sahara for further verification, sources said.
Last month, Sebi began inviting claims from Sahara bondholders in a prescribed format and has said it would directly transfer the refund money to the bank accounts of the genuine investors and they can not get the money without having a bank account.
The Supreme Court last month told Sebi to begin refunding the money to genuine investors from Rs 5,120 crore deposited with it so far, while the matter would be heard further by the apex court on July 17.
As per the court orders, Saharas would also have to bear the costs incurred by Sebi in the entire refund process. Sebi is already believed to have incurred huge costs, including initial expenses of about Rs 56 crore for putting in place storage, scanning and repayment systems, for the humongous task of facilitating these refunds and Saharas have to clear these bills.
The regulator had contracted Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHCIL) for work relating to storage, digitisation and scanning of investor documents and for creation of a database.
This contract alone was worth Rs 25.97 crore. Besides, another contract of Rs 29.88 crore was given to UTI Infrastructure Technology and Services for the work relating to redemption related activities in this case.
The Supreme Court has also appointed a retired judge to oversee the matter at a monthly remuneration of Rs 5 lakh in addition to travelling, accommodation and other expenses, all of which are borne by Sebi and recoverable from Sahara.
After Sahara firms were told by the Supreme Court to hand over the investor documents to Sebi, the group sent 127 trucks with more than 31,000 cartons of papers to the regulator's headquarters in Mumbai. However, these contained only 75 per cent of the entire documents required to be submitted.
Finding it impossible to store them at any of its offices, Sebi decided to keep them at a warehouse of SHCIL Projects Ltd, a subsidiary of SHCIL.