Sebi seeks Supreme Court direction to Subrata Roy's Sahara to reveal offers on hotels sale

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 31 2014, 13:57pm hrs
Subrata Roy SaharaSubrata Roy has been in detention since March 4 for the failure of its two group companies to return Rs 24,000 cr to investors.
Asking the Supreme Court to take cognisance of Sahara's non-seriousness in selling its properties and making payment as per its directions, Sebi on Thursday sought a direction to the Sahara group to reveal all the offers it has received so far and explain why it has not acted upon them.

The market regulator in its fresh application told the apex court that the shifting of the detenus from the prison barracks to the guest house was also permitted to enable sale/mortgage of these foreign assets and the court has not been yet informed of the offers received and the manner in which they have been dealt with.

It has sought a direction to the Sahara group to file a statement setting out the details of all offers/bids received for sale/mortgage of the foreign assets and also pass a suitable orders for sale of foreign assets of Saharas to enable deposit of R47,000 crore as directed by the apex court.

The Supreme Court on August 1 had allowed Sahara chief Subrata Roy and two of his group directors to use the fully air-conditioned conference room inside the Tihar Jail complex to enable him to hold negotiations with potential buyers to sell his three luxury hotels Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London to raise Rs 10,000 crore, half in cash and half through bank guarantee to secure their bail. Roy was initially given 10 days to use the makeshift office but his stay was extended by the court on several occasions.

But early this month, Roy was sent back to his cell after Sahara failed to seal deals for selling properties.

Roy has been in detention since March 4 for the failure of its two group companies Sahara Housing and Sahara Real Estate to return Rs 24,000 crore excluding interest to nearly 3 crore investors through market regulator Sebi.

According to Sebi, it has received complaints from various prospective foreign buyers that Sahara was not interested in selling its properties despite they giving enough proof of funds to prove bonafide.

The complaints indicate that the sale/mortgage is not being attempted in a transparent manner, it said, adding that its whole time member has received couple of an e-mail communications from buyers who are keen to buy the Sahara-owned hotels in London and New York.

The e-mails justifiably give rise to an apprehension that Saharas are willfully and deliberately not taking adequate steps to sell/dispose of/mortgage the foreign assets for which express permission was sought for from and granted by the apex court, the application stated.

One Michael Kurtland had alleged that Roy was avoiding such sale and is claiming exorbitant price of 850 million pounds for its London hotel when it had got it valued at just 617 million pounds a few months ago.

Kurtland had further alleged that Sahara was dealing in a highly unprofessional manner and was not using company emails but have a person called Lalit Chandel to conduct negotiations from a gmail account.

Besides, the group is seeking unrealistic prices to deter buyers from engaging with them so that the properties cannot be sold... I can match the price they stated to the court they wanted subject to contract... They do not want to sell these hotels but they are trying to refinance them to get better terms from another bank other than Bank of China...You need to set up accountability with them otherwise these hotels will never be sold to the right bidder be it me or another party, the buyer had written in his letter to the Sebi.