Millennium Post

Sebi begins repayment process in Sahara case

In the high profile Sahara case involving over Rs 24,000 crore raised through various illegalities’, market regulator Sebi has begun the process of refund to individual investors who have been verified by it. The money is being refunded only in those cases where Sebi has not found any multiplicity during its verification process. Refund for others will have to wait till the next direction from the Supreme Court, which is likely to hear the case on July 17.

The refunds are being made from the Rs 5,120 crore that has been deposited by the Sahara group, which claims to have already returned close to Rs 20,000 crore to the bondholders of two Sahara firms directly. This claim of direct refunds, which Sahara says were made before the Supreme Court order of August 31, 2012, is yet to be verified independently, sources said. Even among the lists of investors submitted by Sahara to Sebi, after being directed by the apex court to do so, the regulator has come across numerous multiplicities and other anomalies, sources said.

There are numerous instances of one investor being named at hundreds of places, while there are also cases of multiple addresses for one single investor and hundreds of investors sharing the same address, sources said. However, the largest number of anomalies suspected by Sebi involves untraceable addresses and other investor details.

Sources said that the refunds are being made to the genuine investors whose credentials have been verified, although the number of such cases is so far very small when compared to initial claims of about 3 crore bond holders from whom two Sahara firms had raised over Rs 24,000 crore.

The refunds, if any, to the ‘genuine’ investors finding multiple mentions in Saharas’ list would be made after further probe into these details and a subsequent direction from the Supreme Court in this regard, as Sebi suspects that there might be some manipulation on the part of the companies.

Sebi has already written to Enforcement Directorate (ED), Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other government agencies to look into possible violations of rules by Saharas in this matter, including any money laundering activities through fictitious entities. However, the regulator is going ahead with the process of refunding the money to genuine individual investors, sources said.

During the last hearing of Supreme Court in this case, Sebi’s counsel Arvind Datar submitted that ‘the money so far deposited by Saharas be permitted to be refunded to the genuine investors, with interest, after verifying the genuineness of the documents’, as per the court order of May 8.

To this, the apex court had said that ‘Sebi may do so’. However, the issue of ‘genuine multiple investors’ would be examined on the next date of hearing, it said, while posting the matter for July 17.

Sebi has also filed a contempt petition against Saharas, accusing it of not following court directions while it has also sought orders for the arrest of group chief Subrata Roy and his debarment from leaving the country. These matters are also likely to be heard by the court on 17 July.
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