The Supreme Court also ordered Sahara to pay 15 per cent interest to investors on their deposits.
After the development, the Sahara Group sought to allay concerns of its investors and depositors, saying they “need not worry about anything” and the group is “so healthy that there cannot be even a day’s delay in any payment commitment of Sahara”.
Two unlisted group companies of Sahara, which has interests ranging from financial services and housing to media and sports, had between 2008 and 2011 raised a total of Rs. 24,000 crore from 22 million small investors through an instrument known as an optionally fully convertible debenture. OFCDs are debentures that investors can convert into shares at their option.
“In the last 33 years there is not a single complaint of non-payment, whereas we have paid around Rs 1,40,000 crores maturity/redemption and against the enrollment of around 12 crore investors,” Sahara said in the strongly-worded statement.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) last year ordered the group companies to refund the money, with 15 percent annual interest, after it found that the fund-raising process did not comply with rules. In October, an appellate tribunal upheld the regulator's order after hearing Sahara's appeal, and said that the group had to refund the money raised through OFCDs to investors within six weeks. The Sahara Group then moved the Supreme Court, which had stayed the SAT decision in November 2011.
Former Supreme Court Judge BN Agarwal will monitor the refund to investors, the court said today.
SEBI will check the genuineness of the investors and if the investors are not traceable, the amount will go to the government.
The court further said that in case of non-compliance, SEBI can attach and sell properties of the Sahara Group.
"All along for the past 7-8 years, we faced the onslaught of various authorities since they concluded whimsically without any verification that the deposits, investments we have received from the public are ill-gotten," Sahara claimed. "The Income Tax Department held on to our refund (about Rs 2,000 crores) for decades, but ultimately truth prevailed and they had to pay us back the entire amount in 2011," it added.