Subrata Roy, the chief of the Sahara conglomerate, one of India's biggest corporate groups, met with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) today in Mumbai.
Mr Roy and three other executives of the group companies had been summoned by the market regulator in a refund case involving the payment of an estimated Rs 25,000 crore to over three crore investors.
In a related development, the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police has begun a preliminary enquiry into the Sahara case based on a written complaint by Sebi, Mumbai Police sources told NDTV. The regulator has alleged that the company is intimidating its investors and hasn't repaid them yet. No case has been registered so far. The police probe will be holistic, the sources added.
The group on various occasions, including through newspaper advertisements, has accused Sebi and its top officials of not providing an opportunity to meet Mr. Roy or the others for presenting their points of view. The company has also accused the regulator of maliciously leaking news without substance to the media. It has also said that the market regulator is not allowed to appeal for 'civil detention' under the Sebi Act. (Also read, 'Harried by Sebi, Sahara's Subrata Roy stands defiant')
The summons to Mr. Roy and three other directors of two Sahara firms -- Sahara Housing Investment Corporation and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation -- were issued by Sebi to ascertain details of their personal assets, as also the investments and assets of the companies, to move ahead with the sale of immovable assets to recover the money to be refunded to investors.
On March 26, Sebi had asked Mr. Roy and the others (Ashok Roy Choudhary, Ravi Shankar Dubey and Vandana Bhargava) to appear before Sebi's whole-time member Prashant Saran. The two Sahara firms and their executives had also been asked to provide details of their assets and investments to the market regulator by April 8. Sebi sources confirmed that the group has submitted the details.
The regulator had warned that it would go ahead with a sale of the assets it had frozen in a February 13 order should Mr Roy and the three other Sahara executives fail to appear today.
Mr. Roy and the other executives have to produce the original title deeds of all assets and investments of the two firms and furnish details of their bank accounts (in India and abroad), and the complete books of accounts along with income tax returns and wealth tax returns filed by the two companies from the fiscal year 2008 onwards.
Based in Lucknow, Mr Roy calls himself managing worker and chairman of Sahara and "chief guardian" of the world's biggest family, with nearly a million staff and agents. The conglomerate's full name is Sahara India Pariwar. Sahara's website says it had assets with a market value of Rs 1,17,000 crore as of April 2011, the most recently available figure on its website.
With inputs from agencies