Hitting back at Sebi, embattled Sahara group today said issuance of advertisements would not help the regulator reach out to the investors spread across remote parts of the country and offered its help in verifying 95 per cent bondholders it claims to have already refunded.
“The proof of the pudding is in eating. Sahara is confident that verification will prove not only the existence of the investors but also Sahara will get all its money which is with Sebi,” the group said in a statement.
This follows comments made by Sebi’s Whole-Time Member S Raman yesterday on the sidelines of a conference in Mumbai, where he wondered why not many claimants were coming forward to get back the money in the high-profile Sahara case.
“As far as Sahara is concerned, we have a decent amount of money but not many claimants. That is a question mark, as to why there are no claimants despite the fact that we have made multiple advertisements seeking applications to pay the money,” he had said.
Terming his comments as “misguiding and irresponsible”, Sahara accused Sebi of indulging in ‘media trial’ on Sahara- Sebi matter when the case was ‘sub-judice’.
It said the regulator was not finding many claimants because “Sebi in four years has not initiated on-ground verification of the investors”.
The group further said that Sebi has issued four newspaper advertisements directed towards only those investors who have yet to get refund. But, “the majority 95 per cent who have already got back their money are neither addressed in these advertisements nor will they anyway, bother to reply to Sebi (even if asked) as they have already got their money refunded from Sahara.”
“Besides, it is imperative to understand that almost entire majority of Sahara investors (including the remaining 5 per cent investors) reside in the remote parts of rural India and are mostly illiterate or barely literate.
“Many of them live in mud houses, hutments and even slums, where there are no street names or house numbers (as there are no municipalities in small villages to allot house numbers, etc). Therefore, instead of merely issuing advertisements, a more serious and detailed approach should be adopted by Sebi to reach out to our investors,” it said.
The group further said “Sahara with its more than 12 lakh workers has an unparalleled reach to investors”.
Citing the Supreme Court order that Sebi can take help of Sahara for verification of investors, the group said, “It is not possible to reach out to these small investors and Sahara is always ready to assist Sebi in reaching out to the aforesaid investors.”
Sahara is engaged in a long-running dispute with the Sebi over schemes involving raising of funds from public through certain bonds and the group was asked to return thousands of crores along with interest to the investors through the regulator.
“The entire desire of ours is to distribute as much money as possible,” Raman had said.