Sahara deliberately avoiding sale of properties, Sebi tells SC

The Securities & Exchange Board of India has suggested to the Supreme Court that the Sahara group and its jailed chief Subrata Roy were deliberately avoiding the sale of foreign properties to repay allegedly duped Indian investors.

Sebi told the bench it received an e-mail from London last month in which the sender claimed to have offered to buy Sahara's offshore properties, but Sahara refused to go ahead with the deal.

Citing the content of the mail and other communications, Sebi on Thursday moved the Supreme Court, saying it has has received some complaints, including this mail, from London against Sahara for not showing its interest to sell the properties.

The e-mail communication was received by it on September 29 from one Michael Kurtland, Prime Investment Ltd, Berkeley Square, Mayfair London.

"Michael said they (Sahara) are claiming the price of the hotel is £850 million when they got it valued at £617 million a few months ago," as per the application.

"The e-mails justifiably give rise to an apprehension that Saharas are willfully and deliberately not taking adequate steps to sell / dispose of / mortgage the foreign assets for which express permission was sought for from and granted by this court.

''The shifting of the detenus from the prison barracks to the guest house was also permitted to enable sale / mortgage of these foreign assets. This court has, till date, not been informed of the offers received and the manner in which they have been dealt with. The complaints indicate that the sale / mortgage is not being attempted in a transparent manner," SEBI said, seeking an order from the court for selling off the Sahara properties.

In August, the Supreme Court had allowed Sahara chief Subrata Roy, who is lodged in Tihar jail since 4 March after he failed to comply with the court orders to refund the investors' money which his company had collected towards housing project, and two of his directors to use the air-conditioned conference room of the jail complex to negotiate the sale of properties.

Sahara sought to sell the properties to raise Rs 10,000 crore to meet the bail condition imposed by the court for Roy's release.

The court had granted 10 days' time to Roy to finalise the deal with prospective buyers to sell Grosvenor House in London and New York Plaza hotels initially, but later extended several times. Earlier, this month Roy and his associates were shifted to jail from the conference room but not deal has been finalised.