Subrata Roy of Sahara has probably always believed that he does not need not follow laws, as long he has powerful connections. This belief of his has been badly dented by the Supreme Court. But does Mr Roy understand it still?
Once again, as we go to print, the Supreme Court of India (SC) has remanded Subrata Roy, head of the Sahara group, to custody until 25th March. On 13th March, Mr Roy’s lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, challenged his imprisonment on the grounds that it was ‘illegal and unconstitutional’. The two-judge bench of Justice JS Kehar and Justice KS Radhakrishnan was unmoved and refused to grant bail saying Mr Roy had failed to come up with a written repayment plan as directed by the Court. The Sahara group has been asked pay up over Rs20,000 crore, plus 15% interest, to the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in compliance with its August 2012 order.
Some would argue that since Sahara failed to comply with its orders, the Supreme Court hardly had a choice but to keep Subrata Roy in jail. After all, consider the situation. The apex court has given Sahara a really long rope for over three years. But it is almost as if Sahara does not even comprehend the sanctity and seriousness of Supreme Court hearings. All through the trial, it issued defiant and childish advertisements in all national newspapers on the trial days; many bordered on contempt but the Court chose to ignore them. Mr Roy also ignored the apex court’s instructions to be personally present in Court, finally leading to the arrest. It is safe to bet that no other corporate group would have exhibited such defiance.
Sahara claims to have paid back over Rs22,885 crore to those who invested in optionally fully convertible debentures issued by two realty companies of the group. In addition, it has deposited Rs5,120 crore with SEBI under the court orders. Sahara’s alleged CASH refunds were in defiance of the Supreme Court’s explicit order to deposit the money with SEBI, to be disbursed to investors after verification by a retired Supreme Court judge.
Worse, Sahara is unable to demonstrate how such a large amount of cash was generated to make the payments. Surely, any business group would need to liquidate some assets to pay back a whopping Rs22,000 crore in cash. The UPA government and the entire political establishment, which is watching the proceedings in silence, does not seem to notice the irony of the finance ministry’s claim about monitoring cash payments. No questions have been asked by the tax department which routinely harasses retired, middle-class, senior citizens about tax returns filed a decade ago.
Interestingly, Sahara has got away with similar refund claims in the past because the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) remained silent. Sahara issued advertisements claiming to have raised Rs73,000 crore in deposits through its residuary non-banking company and claimed they were repaid long before the 2015 deadline set by RBI. While RBI remained silent, bankers admitted that the money was simply rolled over to its new, highly publicised retail venture called Q-shop, without any direct repayments to savers.
Clearly, Sahara does not believe that laws, regulations and tax compliance apply to it, so long as it is able to forge powerful connections across politics, cricket and cinema and hire India’s best legal brains. But with Subrata Roy behind bars since 4th March, and its political friends busy with a game-changing general election, things are getting hot for this group. While SEBI is seeking help from foreign investigators to track its properties abroad, the group attempted to cobble up support from a rag-tag bunch of film stars and cricketers which fell flat. It is unclear if the group has even begun to understand the gravity of the situation.
The market awaits triggers like the RBI monetary policy and the March quarter results...
Australia’s actions are in line with sanctions imposed by the European Union and Canada on officials who have been instrumental in the Russian threat to Ukraine sovereignty
Australia on Wednesday slapped financial sanctions and travel bans on a dozen Russian and Ukrainian officials who had been instrumental in Crimea’s annexation with Russia.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the referendum in Crimea could not form any legitimate basis to separate it from the rest of Ukraine.
“International law does not allow one state to steal the territory of another on the basis of a referendum that cannot be considered free or fair,” she said.
Without giving out names, Bishop said the sanctions and travel bans would target 12 people who were instrumental in the latest development.
“The Australian Government will impose targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on those who have been instrumental in the Russian threat to Ukraine sovereignty,” she said.
“Australia has taken these actions in solidarity and support for a rules-based international order.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to Russia’s map, describing the move as correcting past injustice and responding to what he called Western encroachment upon his country’s vital interests.
“The fatal attack on a Ukrainian serviceman in Crimea is to be deplored and underlines the volatility of the crisis that Russia is fuelling,” Bishop said.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence against Ukraine and its citizens,” she added.
She said Australia’s actions are in line with sanctions imposed by the European Union and Canada.