A Sahara group counsel today told the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) the group was ready to submit a pay order of Rs 5,120 crore to repay those who had subscribed to its optionally fully-convertible debentures (OFCDs). This is about a fifth of the dues two Sahara group firms said they had in August 2011.
While Sahara had moved SAT to direct the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) or the SAT registrar to accept the amount, SAT rejected the appeal.
An emailed questionnaire to a Sahara group spokesperson, seeking details of the remaining amount, remained unanswered till the time of going to press.
|THE MISSING RS 20,000 CRORE|
"Gopal Subramaniam, learned senior counsel, appearing for the appellants, strenuously argued before us the appellants were forced to approach this tribunal in view of the conduct of the respondent board in not accepting the documents tendered by them. Also, it is apprehended that the pay order amounting to Rs 5,120 crore for repaying the amount to OFCD subscribers would not be accepted by the board. The last date for depositing this amount is November 30, 2012. If the amount is not accepted, it may amount to violation of the order passed by the Honourable Supreme Court," SAT said in its order dismissing Sahara's appeal.
Legal experts following the case said this was the amount Sahara was offering as a final settlement. "It appears they will now say this is the outstanding," said a former Sebi official. In a recent newspaper advertisement, Sebi had said it had received complaints the OFCD amount was transferred to other group companies without the consent of investors. It had advised OFCD bondholders not to part with the documents to anyone other than Sebi and initiated criminal proceedings against Sahara group chief Subrata Roy, as well as the directors of the two firms.
On Thursday, Business Standard had reported showing refunds, group agents were collecting sehmat patras from bondholders, while the underlying amount was transferred to other group plans such as Sahara Q-shop.
In affidavits filed with the SAT last year, Sahara India Real Estate said it owed Rs 17,656 crore to 22.1 million investors, after premature redemptions, while Sahara Housing Invest Corporation said it owed Rs 6,373 crore to 7.5 million subscribers, taking the total dues of the two firms on that day to Rs 24,029 crore.
On August 31 this year, the Supreme Court ordered the companies to repay the entire sum to the respective investors, along with interest of 15 per cent a year, saying the money was raised illegally and the procedure followed had violated securities and company laws. The companies were also directed to give all the documents showing details of the subscribers to Sebi within 10 days. Sebi was ordered to verify the documents and ensure the refund process was completed by November 30. Considering interest of 15 per cent on the deposit for a year, total dues would stand at least Rs 27,633 crore. However, Sebi has alleged the Sahara group has violated Supreme Court orders by not submitting the required documents on time. It has filed a contempt petition with the Supreme Court for violation of the court's directions. Meanwhile, the Sahara group has also filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.