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Court allows Sahara to sell properties


SC permits Sahara to sell four properties to raise money to release chief Subrata Roy

Subrata RoyThe Supreme Court on Tuesday permitted Sahara group to sell its four properties located in Gurgaon, Jodhpur, Vashi and Pune to raise Rs.5,000 crore it has to deposit in cash with market regulator SEBI as a part payment of investors’ Rs.24,000 crore that its two companies had collected in 2008-2009.

Permitting Sahara to sell its four properties (large tracts of real estate), a bench of Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice A.K.Sikri said that the purchasers of these properties who are making payment by post-dated cheques would give an undertaking to it (court) that same would be honoured on due date.

The apex court by its March 26 order had asked Sahara’s two real estate companies – Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Limited (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Limited (SHICL) – to deposit with market regulator SEBI Rs.5,000 crore in cash and another Rs.5,000 crores in bank guarantees as a part payment of Rs.17,400 investors money collected by them through OFCDs.

The amount has more than doubled as court by its Aug 31, 2012, order has also held that investors’ money would be returned along with 15 percent interest. Deposit of Rs. 10,000 crores is also condition for the release of group chief Subrata Roy and two directors Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary who were sent to judicial custody on March 4 and are in Tihar jail since then.

A sum of Rs.184.5 crore, across three demand drafts and a cheque, that Sahara received from the buyers of three properties located in Gurgaon, Jodhpur and Vashi as down payment was handed over to SEBI through its senior counsel Arvind Datar.

The court said that all the payments after deducting the transaction cost, taxes and other encumbrance would be paid in favour of SEBI Sahara Refund Account.

The court also cleared the sale of Pune property of Sahara that would fetch Rs.550 crore. The court was told after after the sale agreement is signed then it would receive a down payment of Rs.50 crore.

Appearing for Sahara, senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan and S. Ganesh told the court that their client would not touch even a single penny and all the sale proceeds minus transaction costs, taxes would flow in the SEBI Sahara Refund Account.

The court asked Sahara to address the queries being raised by the SEBI and amicus curiae Shekhar Naphade on the money that would actually come from the junior loan it was raising from the second lender after the mortgage of its three hotels located in New York and London by Bank of China is substituted by another lender.

The court directed Sahara to address the queries, after Naphade told the court that they were not aware what would be the transaction costs and interest that the junior lender is holding back, handling charges by escrow account holder, with $40 million being retained by Sahara. He expressed apprehension that it may not happen that at the end SEBI is left “holding a lemon”.

Granting the plea of Sahara, the court said that in past it granted all its pleas but found that they were to no avail.

Hearing regarding the three overseas hotels that would fetch Sahara money to get bank guarantee of Rs.5,000 crore would be taken up Dec 17.