The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on February 13, 2013 ordered a freeze on the assets and bank accounts of two Sahara Group companies, saying they failed to heed a Supreme Court order to repay billions of dollars collected from investors in outlawed bonds.
The orders posted late on Wednesday by the SEBI escalated a battle between the regulator and unlisted Sahara, one of India's biggest business groups and a household name in the country through its sponsorship of the national cricket team.
SEBI also ordered a freeze on all bank accounts and properties in the name of the Sahara Group founder, Subrata Roy, and three other directors of the two firms, according to two separate orders posted on the regulator's website.
We look back at one of India's most mysterious firms and how it got itself into this pickle:
Like millions of Indians, Jag Ram Chaudhary invested with the Sahara conglomerate - Rs 1,300 a month in his case - to put away money for a rainy day.
"My wife had an accident some years back. I don't have much savings, so I thought I'll be able to save some money by putting in a small amount every month," said Chaudhary, an office helper at a construction company in Uttar Pradesh.
On August 31, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that finance schemes run by two Sahara companies were illegal and ordered it to repay as much as $4.5 billion to up to almost 30 million mostly small investors, plus interest.
The final figures are still to be determined as some clients have already redeemed their investments, lawyers on both sides of the matter said.
The case has shone a rare light on the unlisted giant whose interests range across finance, housing, media and entertainment.
Text: Tony Munroe and Devidutta Tripathy, Reuters