1. Mirach fiasco: Sahara initiates legal action; eyes new deal

Mirach fiasco: Sahara initiates legal action; eyes new deal

Accusing Mirach Capital of "cheating and forgery" in the failed USD 2.05 billion loan arrangement...

By: | New Delhi | Published: February 12, 2015 7:51 PM
Subrata Roy, Sahara Group, Mirach Capital, Sahara overseas hotels, Bank of America

Sahara today said it has initiated legal action against the US-based firm and it is now working on a new deal to raise funds to secure bail for its chief Subrata Roy. Reuters

Accusing Mirach Capital of “cheating and forgery” in the failed USD 2.05 billion loan arrangement, Sahara today said it has initiated legal action against the US-based firm and it is now working on a new deal to raise funds to secure bail for its chief Subrata Roy.

The crisis-hit group alleged that Mirach and its CEO Saransh Sharma’s “criminal conduct and lack of financial capabilities to honour such huge commitments led to the breaking down of its deal with Sahara, leading to the loss of precious time, resources and position of Sahara”.

“… Sahara is now taking legal actions both of civil and criminal nature against such gross criminal conduct of MCG (Mirach Capital Group) and their officers, both in India as well as in the US,” a Sahara spokesperson said.

He further said that an FIR has already been filed in this regard, while adding that the group is now “working on another deal and Sahara will comply the order (of the Supreme Court) very soon.”

There was no immediate reply to queries mailed to Mirach, which had earlier accused Sahara of going back on the deal and also warned the Indian group of legal action.

Mirach had yesterday formally called off its USD 2.05 billion loan financing for Saharas and said it has returned the entire due diligence fees of USD 2.625 million to them.

It also accused Sahara of being an “unwilling seller” for the three overseas properties — The Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York and the Grosvenor House in London.

With its financing arrangement, which involved transfer of loans taken by Saharas from Bank of China for three these hotels to a clutch of investors, Mirach had emerged as a white-knight in Sahara’s efforts to secure release of its jailed chief Subrata Roy till its syndicate loan offer got embroiled in an alleged “forged letter” controversy.

Sahara and Mirach were asked to finalise their deal by February 20 to help arrange funds for securing release of Roy and his two colleagues, who have been lodged in Tihar Jail for almost a year now.

While calling off the loan deal, Mirach yesterday said it was still willing to arrange a full buyout of Sahara’s three overseas hotels for a similar amount of USD 2.05 billion.

The loan deal fell apart after Bank of America disclosed that it was not involved in the deal as was being claimed.

Sahara said that its own due diligence found the letter to be “forged”, which was purportedly from Bank of America and claimed to provide guarantees worth USD 1.05 billion for the Mirach-Sahara deal.

The Supreme Court, which had asked Sahara to deposit over Rs 24,000 crore to Sebi in August 2012 for further repayment to investors, was informed yesterday that the Mirach deal has failed. Only a part of these funds has been deposited by Sahara with Sebi, although the group claims to have already repaid over 93 per cent of investors directly.

In a detailed statement on its side of story in the loan arrangement with Mirach and the eventual collapse of the deal, Sahara said the MOUs and basic agreements were signed between the two parties after several rounds of discussions, negotiations and meetings, “in person, through e-mail

Sahara said it was left with no option but to “rescind the deal” and is also contemplating to take civil action for damages for causing wilful loss by Mirach and its officers.

On Mirach’s claims that it was interested in purchase of three foreign hotels, Sahara said it has found that the US-based firm “has no such huge funds of its own and is trying to build a consortium of various corporates to jointly fund for taking over of the said hotels”.

It also alleged that the “financial capabilities of MCG and Sharma are doubtful and mischievous”.

“Sahara is now taking all sorts of legal actions against such gross criminal conduct of Mirach and their officers, both in India as well as in the US,” the group spokesperson said.

Sahara said that Mirach had always defended the purported BofA letter and claimed that funds were available in that account.

It also raised questions about the source of the said letter and the signature thereon, among others.

A blame-game has been continuing between Sahara and Mirach for about a week now over their floundered deal.

The three iconic hotels — The Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York and Grosvenor House in London — were acquired by Saharas between 2010-2012 at an estimated valuation of USD 1.55 billion. Market experts peg their current valuation at upwards of USD 2.2 billion, after taking into account the appreciation in their values.

Mirach, however, says the three hotels can get a maximum valuation of USD 1.67 billion, while the prevailing “distressed circumstances” can bring down the value to as low as USD 700 million.

The US-based firm had earlier sought a “formal apology” from Sahara for going back on the deal.
Sharma, who is himself facing legal lawsuits for a few cases in the US and has reportedly admitted to wrongdoings in the past in a case relating to stealing database, had also warned of initiating legal recourse and seeking compensation from Sahara.

The Sahara-Mirach deal took a curious turn after Bank of America’s disclosure that it was not the banker as claimed earlier for this proposed financing arrangement.

Sharma however claimed that a banker from Bank of America had sent an e-mail on December 17, 2014 directly to Sahara confirming financial capabilities.

According to him, on December 19, 2014, Bank of America officially withdrew to act as escrow agent to this transaction citing “integrity issues with Sahara” as the reason for not being involved with the transaction.

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