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SEBI makes fresh bid to find Sahara investors for refunds

Making a fresh bid to locate Sahara investors eligible for refunds, capital markets regulator SEBI has asked the bondholders of two Sahara firms to submit their claims along with the proof of investments.

The latest exercise follows two similar attempts made by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in the past.

The first exercise began in August last year, when the investors were asked to submit their refund claims by September 30, followed by a similar exercise in December when the bondholders were required to approach SEBI with their applications by January 2015.

There is no specific deadline as yet in the latest attempt by SEBI, which has been asked by the Supreme Court to refund money collected from the bondholders of Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL), after verifying the credentials of the investors.

While the details of the second exercise to locate eligible investors could not be ascertained, SEBI had received 4,900 refund claims in its first attempt last year from the bondholders of two Sahara firms, which had raised Rs 25,780 crore from about three crore investors.

While Sahara firms were asked to deposit the money with SEBI for further repayment to the investors, the group claims to have already refunded about 95 percent investors directly. The group has, however, already deposited over Rs 12,000 crore in the SEBI-Sahara Refund Account, although the regulator has been able to repay only a small amount to investors as yet.

Sahara Chairman Subrata Roy, as also two top executives, have been in Tihar Jail for more than a year and the group was asked by the apex court to deposit Rs 5,000 in cash and bank guarantee for a similar amount for their release. While a portion of this amount has been deposited, the group is exploring sale of further assets to arrange funds.

Recently, Sahara also backed SEBI’s claim before a US court to bring back nearly USD 13 million from sale proceeds of a business jet of the crisis-hit group.

In fresh public notices, SEBI has again asked the investors holding Real Estate, Abode and Nirmaan Bonds of SIRECL, as also those holding Multiple, Income and Housing Bonds of SHICL to submit their applications along with the necessary documentary proofs for the refund.

When contacted, a Sahara spokesperson said the group has repaid around Rs 23,000 crore to the bondholders directly, still it has already deposited more than Rs 12,000 crore to SEBI’s refund account.

The group further said SEBI could repay only about Rs 2 crore after three rounds of media advertisements across 50-60 publications that resulted in total demand worth about Rs 20 crore, as most of the investors have already got back their money.

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