Nearly 130mn (million) investors have investments of over Rs1.12 lakh crore 'stuck' in six companies of the Sahara group. Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been facilitating the repayment of principal and interest to the investors who invested in optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs) of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL), the Union government told the Lok Sabha.
In a written reply, Pankaj Chaudhary, minister of state for finance, shared details of investments in six companies of the Subrata Roy-led Sahara group. Other companies besides SIRECL and SHICL, are: Sahara Credit Cooperative Society Ltd, Humara India Credit Cooperative Society Ltd, Saharayn Universal Multipurpose Society Ltd and Stars Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd.
As per the information, 129.6mn investors have Rs112,454.37 stuck in these six companies. Sahara Credit Cooperative Society owes a maximum Rs47,245 crore to investors, followed by SIRECL at Rs19,400.87 crore and Saharayn Universal Multipurpose Society at Rs18,000 crore, the minister says.
Giridhari Yadav and Vijay Baghel, both members of Parliament (MPs), have asked about total money put in by investors in Sahara group companies and if the government is aware that Sahara group is not paying money back to them due to an embargo placed or due to lack of funds.
Mr Chaudhary, the minister, says, "As regard Sahara India Group not being able to pay back the investors of other schemes, it is informed that the principal amount raised under RHP of OFCDs of SIRCEL and SHICL is Rs25,781.37 crores against which only Rs15,506.81 crore has been deposited in SEBI-Sahara Refund Account and SEBI has been facilitating the repayment of principal and interest to the investors who invested in OFCDs of SIRECL and SHICL."
The MPs have also asked whether the Sahara India group has deposited crores of rupees in 'SEBI-Sahara refund' account and the quantum of funds deposited by Sahara and money refunded by the market regulator.
According to the minister, Sahara group has deposited Rs15,506.81 crore into designated 'SEBI-Sahara Refund' account. "SEBI made refunds with respect to 17,526 eligible bondholders involving 48,326 original bond certificates/ pass books for an aggregate amount of Rs138.07 crores, i.e., Rs70.09 crore as principal and Rs67.98 crore as an interest, by way of transfer through NEFT and RTGS."
In terms of the directions issued from time to time by the Supreme Court and advice rendered by justice (Retd) BN Agarwal appointed by the apex court, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued a press release on 28 May 2013 and multiple advertisements during August-September 2014 and December 2014, which detailed the application process along with its mechanism to apply for refund.
"These were made available on the SEBI website and the bondholders of SIRECL and SHICL were also advised to make necessary applications to SEBI for refund of their money. SEBI also issued final advertisements on 26 March 2018 and 19 June 2018 informing the bondholders of SIRECL and SHICL that 2 July 2018 (cut-off date) is the last date for receiving applications for refund and that no application would be accepted or entertained after the cut-off date. Further, SEBI has also filed an interlocutory application dated 21 October 2021 seeking further directions from the Supreme Court in this matter and the same is presently pending before the SC," Mr Chaudhary says.
Last month, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of North 24 Parganas, directed Sahara group unit Sahara Credit Cooperative Society to refund, along with an interest @6%, money invested by an investor in the company's scheme. The District Commission also stated that since the SEBI was not related to the investment, the case against the market regulator is dismissed. (Read: Sahara Credit Cooperative Society Asked To Refund Investor's Money
Earlier in June, SEBI imposed penalties of Rs12 crore on two Sahara group companies, the group chief Mr Roy and three others, Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shanker Dubey and Vandana Bharrgava for violating regulatory norms in the issuance of OFCDs in 2008 and 2009.