Investors of Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) have been paid back Rs138.07 crore, including Rs70.09 crore as principal and Rs67.98 crore as an interest, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.
In a written reply, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman says, “In response to the various press releases and advertisements, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) received 19,644 applications in total, involving 53,642 original bond certificates or passbooks for an aggregate principal amount of Rs81.70 crore. On the basis of verifiable documents, SEBI made refunds with respect to 17,526 eligible bondholders involving 48,326 original bond certificates and passbooks for an aggregate amount of Rs138.07 crore (i.e., Rs70.09 crore as principal and Rs67.98 crore as an interest) by way of transfer through national electronic funds transfer (NEFT) and real-time gross settlement (RTGS).”
On 31 August 2012, the Supreme Court of India (SC) handed down a historic verdict asking SIRECL and SHICL to refund Rs19,400.87 crore and Rs6,380.50 crore, respectively, to investors as the funds were illegally raised through quasi-debentures without regulatory clearance.
These two Sahara group companies collected Rs25,781.37 crore from around 3.07 crore investors through red herring prospectuses (RHP) on optionally fully convertible debentures dated 13 March 2008 and 16 October 2009 of SIRECL and SHICL, respectively.
As of 30 November 2021, the Sahara companies have deposited an aggregate amount of Rs15,485.80 crore against the principal amount Rs25,781.37 crore into the designated ‘SEBI-Sahara Refund’ account, the minister says.
Gajanan Chandrakant Kirtikar, a member of Parliament (MP) from Mumbai, had asked about the status of repayment to investors of Sahara. He had asked whether the Union government is aware that the Sahara India group could not pay back the investors of other schemes due to the embargo placed on them and about measures being taken to ensure lifting of the embargo.
However, Ms Sitharaman only shared information on money deposited by Sahara group and efforts taken by SEBI to refund the money to investors. She says, “As regards Sahara India group not being able to pay back the investors of other schemes, it informed that the principal amount raised under RHP of optionally fully convertible debentures of SIRCEL and SHICL is Rs25,781.37 crore against which only Rs15,485.80 crore has been deposited in the SEBI-Sahara refund account and SEBI has been facilitating the repayment of principal and interest to the investors who invested in optionally fully convertible debentures of SIRCEL and SHICL.”
As reported by Moneylife, while SEBI cannot find investors of the realty companies, lakhs of genuine investors are coming forward from all over the country demanding payment. They were lured into investing in the controversial group through four giant cooperative societies spread across India. Many have a genuine claim to the money collected by SEBI. Still, the regulator is sticking to a narrow definition of what the Supreme Court has ordered and is making no effort to help investors who were duped.
It was never the Supreme Court’s intention that SEBI sit on the money. Moreover, the regulator is clearly out of ideas and it may be time for the SC to set up a committee to collect all valid claims and distribute the money. The big difference today is that there are lakhs of genuine investors who have been duped—unlike in the past when it was impossible to find a Sahara investor. (Read: Sahara Refunds: Did the SC Want SEBI To Sit on Rs15,448.67 Crore for a Decade?
You may also want to read our coverage on Sahara Issue here