Sahara India Pariwar’s Subrata Roy, who is on parole, had a closed door meeting with his employees and investors in Vijayawada. Roy visited the city as a part of his ‘Abhaar Yaatra’ to offer gratitude to employees and investors of Sahara. Thousands of employees and investors from across Andhra Pradesh took part in the meeting. The meeting went on till late night. The 67-year-old Roy along with other cadre of the Sahara group was arrested in 2014, following orders by the Supreme Court in connection with an alleged fraud involving Rs. 24,000 crore deposits which his company has not refunded to investors. Roy and two other directors of Sahara were paroled for four weeks from May 6 and the period was later extended up to July 11. Roy has been in jail for nearly two years and has been unable to arrange Rs. 10,000 crore for his bail, as ordered by judges. Nowhere in the world does a man say he has Rs. 1.87 lakh crore in properties and still isn’t paying his dues.
Recently, the Supreme Court said that Sebi should not sell the properties for less than 90 per cent of the circle rate – the listed market value. If bids are below 90 per cent of the circle rate, the regulator will have to take the permission of the court. Now, the Supreme Court has asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to start the process of selling some of embattled conglomerate Sahara’s real estate assets in the country to refund millions of investors. Sahara, a household name in India as the former main sponsor of the national cricket team, owns major hotels overseas including the Plaza in New York and the Grosvenor House in London, besides vast real estate assets in India. The country’s top court in June last year said the group needed to repay the entire Rs. 36,000 crore the court says it owes investors in illegal bonds.
Sahara has submitted to officials a list of 86 properties which it claims are worth Rs 40,000 crore. However, the firm claims that it has not been able to find buyers for the properties. The proceeds from the property sale will be used for securing bail of Sahara chief. Roy joined Sahara Finance, a struggling company, in 1978 that ran a chit fund and took it over. He changed its financial model. Sahara is said to have used the financial model of much older Peerless Group. They are termed residuary non-banking companies (RNBCs) that accept deposits of very low amounts. In the 1990s, Roy moved to Lucknow, which became the base of his empire. His Sahara City project covering 170 acres was launched in the 1990s. From there, it went on to become the largest conglomerate of India with a diversified range of business interests. The company now has interests in real estate, media, entertainment, tourism, healthcare and hospitality.
The Hindi newspaper Rashtriya Sahara was started in 1992. In the late 1990s, the ambitious Aamby Valley City project near Pune was initiated. In 2000, Sahara TV was launched which was later renamed Sahara One. In 2003, Sahara started three weeklies: Sahara Time (English), Sahara Samay (Hindi) and Sahara Aalmi (Urdu). In 2010, Sahara purchased the iconic Grosvenor House Hotel in London and 2012 the historic Plaza Hotel in New York City. Sahara claims to have a workforce of more than a million, including salaried employees and field workers. In 2013, 121,653 of its employees gathered in Lucknow to sing India’s national anthem, setting a world record. Sahara is said to have 29.6 million investors, representing about 8.5% of all households in India.
Roy has propounded the corporate philosophy of ‘Collective Materialism’, that advocates collective growth through collective sharing and caring. He has written three books. “Life Mantras” was released on 2 February 2016 at 5,120 public events across India. The book is the first of the trilogy ‘Thoughts from Tihar’ written by Roy during his period behind the bars. The forthcoming books are ‘Think with Me – How to make our country ideal’, and ‘Reflections from Tihar – A book on Tihar Jail’ which are to be released soon. About after a month of its launch on February 1, 2016, ‘life Mantras’ topped the non-fiction category of Nielsen BookScan.
Since March 2014, he is under judicial custody with a bail amount of Rs. 10000 crores, Sahara India Pariwar – Issuance of Optionally Fully-Fully-Convertible Debentures, by his two group companies, Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd. (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing & Investment Corporation Ltd. (SHICL). On 26 February 2014, the Supreme Court of India ordered the arrest of Subrata Roy for failing to appear before it in connection with the Rs. 24,000 crore deposits his company has not refunded to investors. He was eventually arrested on 28 February 2014 by Uttar Pradesh police on Supreme Court’s warrant, in a dispute with Market Regulator – SEBI. Supreme Court of India granted him interim bail for the same on 26 March 2014 on condition of depositing Rs. 10,000 crore with the market regulator SEBI. I hope that he will get his way out now.
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