Jailed Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy came closer to obtaining bail as the group today filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating it has deposited Rs3,117 crore with the Securities & Exchange Board of India, and that it is trying to raise the remainder of the Rs5,000 crore it needs to pay up front to get bail for Roy.
Sahara counsel Keshav Mohan presented a bank communication relating to the transfer of the amount to the Sebi-Sahara account as evidence of payment.
"Now less than Rs2,000 crore remain to be deposited by the Saharas in compliance with the March 26 order. This shall be done as early as possible," the group said without giving any definite time-frame.
The development comes soon after the recent SC order which had lifted an embargo on the sale of nine Sahara properties, enabling the group to raise money on these properties, some of them overseas in valuable locations like London (See: SC allows sale of Sahara's hotel assets; no order on Roy's bail plea).
Roy and two directors were sent to judicial custody on 4 March for failure of two group companies - SIRECL and SHICL - to comply with the court's order to return to investors Rs24,000 crore that they had collected through optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs).
The group is accused of defrauding small savers of their money with promises of unrealistic returns.
The apex court has repeatedly turned down Roy's bail pleas until and unless Sahara deposits Rs5,000 crore in cash and another Rs5,000 crore in bank deposits, making in dollar terms a total of well over $1.5 billion (Pay Rs10,000 crore upfront or stay in jail, SC tells Subrata Roy).
Last month Sahara sold approximately 4.21 lakh square metres of land, which was part of its residential housing scheme 'Sahara City' in Ahmedabad to city-based developers for Rs464 crore (Sahara sells Ahmedabad property to raise Rs464 crore ).
According to a report in The Times of India, the rest of the money comes from a Rs2,705.70 crore encashment / sale / transfer of fixed deposits, bonds and securities, while the remaining Rs411.82 crore came were from ''sale proceeds of land at Ahmedabad".
Other real estate assets that were listed by the company (for potential sale) include Chauma in Gurgaon worth Rs1,430 crore, Mumbai suburb Vasai (1,169.72 crore) and Pune (Rs575 crore). The company expects to raise Rs4,300 crore through these sales while, the Rs5,000 crore bank guarantee may come from selling its stake in the three hotels it owns abroad - Grosvenor House at London and two hotels in New York, Dreams Downtown Hotel and Plaza Hotel.
On Thursday, the group is likely to plead before the court that it had emptied its coffers to comply as far as possible with the stringent interim bail conditions for the release of Roy and two directors, one from Sahara Housing and the other from Sahara Real Estate.
The group should be able to deposit Rs1,883 crore with Sebi by going ahead with the sale of the nine properties it had listed before the court.
For furnishing bank guarantee of Rs5,000 crore, the group had sought permission of the court to dispose of its stake in the three hotels abroad -Grosvenor House at London and two hotels in New York, Dreams Downtown Hotel and Plaza Hotel. The stakes in these hotels are held by Aamby Valley (Mauritius), which is 100-per cent owned by Sahara's Aamby Valley.
However, the court had agreed to put on hold the permission to sell the stakes in hotels abroad saying it had not been furnished the requisite documents about its valuation from the creditor bank - Bank of China.
Roy has been in Tihar jail since March 4 after the court found two group companies failing to comply with the its direction to pay back through SEBI Rs 26,000 crore to investors.