Seeking to reject any “impression” that its chief Subrata Roy wanted to go abroad before incarceration, embattled Sahara group today said he returned to the country on being summoned and later did not leave the country even after the Supreme Court’s permission.
Objecting to Sebi lawyer Arvind Datar’s comments about Roy having sought permission to go abroad weeks before being jailed, Sahara’s Counsel Gautam Awasthi said that his statement “tends to mislead by creating an impression as if ‘Saharasri’ Subrata Roy Sahara wanted to go abroad before incarceration”.
Roy is referred to as ‘Saharasri’ in his group, which has been engaged in a long-drawn battle with the markets regulator Sebi over collection of funds totalling nearly Rs 25,000 crore from an estimated three crore investors through certain bonds named OFCDs (Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures).
Delivering a lecture on ‘Sahara vs Sebi’ case here on Friday last, Datar said the Supreme Court had asked Roy not to leave the country when the issue related to a Mumbai property came up during one of the hearings.
“Before the Supreme Court asked him (Roy) to appear, he filed an application to say that he wanted to leave India… He said he wanted to leave India to meet Bill Clinton and Tony Blair for business discussion. It is on record,” Datar said.
He also said that the court’s order on March 4, 2014, had come as a surprise.
“I don’t know what happened. The court called the court marshal and sent him to jail. It just happened, it was so abrupt. He was asked to come to court and I thought they may ask him to do something,” Datar had said.
Reacting strongly to Datar’s comments, Awasthi said, “The fact however is that, ‘Saharasri’ was abroad and immediately returned to the country on being summoned. In November, 2013, the Supreme Court had restrained ‘Saharasri’ and other directors from leaving the country without permission.
“It is very important to state that subsequently Saharasri was granted permission by Supreme Court to travel abroad for two weeks, yet he did not go abroad.”
The Group also claimed that in 2012 itself it had repaid to 95 per cent of its Investors but “nobody believed that”.
“But now Sebi in their fourth all-India advertisement through around 144 publications has clearly said that this is the last chance esteemed Investors to lodge their claims with Sebi seeking refund,” the statement added.
It further said the refund and repayment demand from investors in the past 43 months together has been just about Rs 104 crore, whereas the regulator has already got Sahara’s Rs 13,700 crore (after taking into account interest earned).
“Above all, we have to pay Rs 5,300 crore (including bank guarantee of Rs 5,000 crore) more to get the bail of Chairman and two directors. Also Sebi is holding land asset worth around Rs 40,000 crore.
“So, Sahara is giving security of Rs 59,000 crore for only around 104 crore repayment to public to be done by Sebi ever,” the statement said.
The Group said it “did everything as per law prevailing at that time” and Sebi should have rather lodged case against three Registrars of Companies under Ministry of Corporate Affairs who gave “written permission” for the OFCD business.
“For continuously 7-8 years, RoCs took our balance sheets etc, received the submission of prospectus, did dozens of inspections and investigations. We filed our return every year with registrar of companies etc,” it added.