Sahara says SEBI is trying to siphon off its investors' money

Sahara Group, which so far failed to list investors in a Rs22,000 crore optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs) of its two group companies, now says that the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is running a highly malicious and tactical campaign ''with a very clear intention to siphon off money from the funds that Saharas have deposited with SEBI, purely for the repayment to its investors.''

At the same time, Sahara agrees that SEBI's quest to locate genuine Sahara investors has become a very costly affair for the regulator and its expenses may rise further next year from about Rs60 crore estimated for the current fiscal.

It further says that SEBI has sought a permission to use a portion of Rs5,120 crore, deposited by Saharas for refund to its investors, for settling expenses incurred or to be incurred in the matters for carrying out directions of the apex court.

Sahara has alleged that SEBI has initiated ''a highly malicious and tactical campaign with a very clear intention to siphon off money from the funds that Saharas have deposited with SEBI, purely for the repayment to its investors,'' adding, ''It is really unfortunate of a regulator, the way SEBI is blowing hot and cold, both, at a time.''

Accoording to Sahara, SEBI's  counsel had, on 13 March, argued before the Supreme Court that Saharas' issue was a public issue, being subscribed by 30.3 million investors and as such a largest issue, which does not go with its stand that Saharas' investors are untraceable.

While SEBI's letters to 20,000 of the so-called investors remained largely unresponded, Sahar claims to have produced affidavits from a large number of such investors and submitted it to the SEBI.

The documents that Sahara submitted ''included affidavits, authentic KYC documents and photographs of almost all those investors to whom SEBI had sent the letters,'' it said, adding that they had received redemption of their investments.

''SEBI is only interested in extracting money from Sahara, when it has not been able to refund even one crore rupees to the investors, in more than last 15 months, out of Rs5,120 crores paid by Sahara to SEBI for this purpose. SEBI's intentions are unfair and heavily loaded with acute malafide,'' Sahara said.

This, according to Sahara, is a sinister attempt by SEBI to eat away investors' money. ''In Saharas' case SEBI has not shown any intention to protect the interest of investors, for which it has been constituted. How can SEBI even think of usurping investors' money?''

Sahara also objected to SEBI charging a fee for miscellaneous expenses incurred in the search for Sahara's investors.

It also quoted minister of state for finance Namo Narayan Meena stating in Parliament that the money given by Saharas is only for refund to Saharas' investors and the money would not be utilised for any other purpose. 

''We will not let SEBI make this another Golden Forest Case where investors have still not got their hard earned money and will stand and fight till the end in the interest of our Hon'ble investors.''

(Also see: Sahara Group seeks time till March 2015 to repay Rs20,000-cr investor money)