Sebi Chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch emphasized that the Sahara case remains a priority for the capital markets regulator, despite the recent passing of the group's founder, Subrata Roy. Speaking at a Ficci event, Buch stated that Sebi's focus is on the conduct of the entity itself, asserting that the matter will persist irrespective of the absence of any individual.
Addressing concerns about the relatively low refunds, Buch explained that the funds were returned based on evidence presented to a committee appointed by the Supreme Court. Despite Sebi's directive for the Sahara group to deposit over Rs 24,000 crore, reports indicate that only Rs 138 crore has been refunded to investors so far.
The Sahara group has faced multiple allegations, including accusations of operating a Ponzi scheme. Subrata Roy's troubles with Sebi began in 2010, leading to restrictions on fund mobilization and public security issuance. In 2014, Roy was arrested for contempt of court due to non-refund of over Rs 20,000 crore to investors. Although he was later granted bail, legal challenges persisted.
The root of the issue lies in the two Sahara group companies, Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation, which raised funds through Optionally Fully Convertible Debentures (OFCD) in 2007-08. Following a series of legal proceedings, the Supreme Court ordered the refund of deposits with 15% interest in 2012. Despite Sahara's claim of already refunding over 95% directly, it was directed to deposit an estimated Rs 24,000 crore with Sebi for further investor refunds, a point the group argued as a "double payment."