Sebi freezes bank accounts of Sahara chief, two group firms

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SummaryThe SEBI order was passed by whole-time member Prashant Saran

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday froze the bank accounts of two Sahara group companies and attached their properties, including those in Aamby Valley and Gurgaon, for lapses in the refund of Rs 24,000 crore they had raised from investors.

The market regulator also ordered a freeze on the bank accounts and properties of group chief Subrata Roy Sahara and three other top officials.

The orders against Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIREC) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHIC) came after the Supreme Court pulled up the two companies last week, seeking an explanation for their alleged non-compliance with its order to refund by November 30 last year the sum they had raised through optional fully convertible debentures.

The two-judge bench had also censured SEBI for not taking sufficient action against the group as per its August 31, 2012 order, which had asked the regulator to attach properties and freeze bank accounts of the companies for the alleged lapses.

Late on Wednesday evening, Sahara issued a statement saying the SEBI order was based “on old facts and details of assets as of January, 2012”. It said Sahara had since then made redemptions from time to time.

“This fact of redemption was known to SEBI. Hence, today’s order does not take into account the changed facts and circumstances,” the statement said, adding that attaching assets of individuals was incorrect when the liability was of companies.

Sahara also said, “There are (a) number of companies in India including Golden Forest Company where (despite a Supreme Court order) from 2004 till now, not a single investor has got back one rupee.”

The SEBI order was passed by whole-time member Prashant Saran. It covered development rights in land owned by Aamby Valley and a range of other real estate projects in various Indian cities.

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