Mumbai: Less than a week after the Supreme Court gave two Sahara group firms—Sahara India Real Estate Corp. Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corp. Ltd—three more months to repay the money they had collected from investors, Sahara India Pariwar issued an advertisement in leading newspapers claiming that its total outstanding liability is just Rs.2,620 crore.
The advertisement published on 9 December said the group has over a period of time “redeemed the OFCDs (optionally fully convertible debentures) issued to the investors and presently the total outstanding liabilities of both the companies is Rs.2,620 crore only”.
This amount is a little more than one-tenth of the original amount of Rs.24,029.73 crore the two group companies had collected from nearly 30 million small investors across the country.
Earlier, on 3 December, Sahara India Pariwar had published the provisional financial statement of the group as of 30 September in some newspapers. The statement said repayments on the OFCDs of Sahara India Real Estate Corp. and Sahara Housing Investment Corp. started in 2008-09 and the two firms have “cleared around Rs.33,000 crore liability”.
“Sahara has tendered payment of a sum of Rs.5,120 crore to the Supreme Court, as the maximum OFCD outstanding liability,” the statement had said.
According to the 9 December advertisement, Sahara India Real Estate and Sahara Housing Investment have already paid Rs.2,620 crore to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and have also deposited an additional Rs.2,500 crore as a “buffer amount”.
“The buffer amount has been paid so that at any stage if there is a difference, Sahara should not face any element of embarrassment,” the advertisement said.
On 6 December, an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir ordered Sahara to initially deposit Rs.5,120 crore with the capital market regulator and pay the rest in two instalments in January and February.
Sebi had wanted the bench that had heard the case in August to decide on it, the regulator’s lawyer, Arvind Datar, had said. “We wanted that the case must be heard by the old bench of justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and J.S. Khehar,” he said.
On 31 August, the Supreme Court had asked the two firms to refund Rs.24,029.73 crore along with annual interest of 15% to its OFCD investors within three months after Sebi banned the firms from raising money from small investors through the instrument.
According to Sebi, the issuance of OFCDs by the two firms is in violation of public issue norms laid down under the companies law and the Sebi Act.
The Supreme Court had also directed Sahara to submit detailed documents to Sebi if it had refunded any money collected through the sale of OFCDs to investors.
The latest advertisement by Sahara India Pariwar claims that in the last 34 years, there has not been a single complaint of non-repayment against the group and it has repaid liabilities of Rs.1,70,636 crore to 147 million account holders.
“Sebi and SAT (Securities Appellate Tribunal) had directed us to clear all the liabilities of both the companies towards the OFCDs issued (around Rs.25,000 crore), but did not ask for double the amount meaning around Rs.50,000 crore. But as per order, we have to pay Sebi around Rs.25,000 crore again in the next two months, which means we have to pay again the whole amount which has already been paid,” the advertisement said.
Sahara declined to comment for the story.
Sahara has filed a defamation case in a Patna court against Mint’s editor and some reporters over the newspaper’s coverage of the company’s dispute with Sebi. Mint is contesting the case.