New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking to attach Sahara Group’s overseas properties.
A bench comprising justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A.K. Sikri agreed to hear ED’s plea in detail on 7 February.
“Investigation has revealed money laundering activities by Sahara,” ED told the court.
Sahara’s overseas properties include Grosvenor House Hotel in London and Plaza Hotel and Dream Downtown in New York.
In 2015, the court was informed of several bids to buy these properties, but none fructified. Sahara has been negotiating sale of these properties for over four years now.
In July 2016 CNBC TV-18 had reported that Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign domestic and foreign investment agency of Qatar, has agreed to buy Sahara’s stake in the hotels.
In November, the apex court had asked market regulator Securities Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, and amicus curiae, or friend of the court, Shekhar Naphade, to respond to Sahara’s new proposal to repay its investors, seeking to pay over Rs300 crore over two-and-a-half years.
According to Sahara’s submissions in court, about Rs11,000 crore has already been deposited with the market regulator and around Rs1,200 crore has been paid since the group chairman Subrata Roy has been out on parole last year.
Roy, his brother-in-law Ashok Roy Choudhary, and Ravi Shankar Dubey, a Sahara director, were granted parole on 6 May 2016 against a collateral of land worth Rs6,109 crore to perform his mother’s last rites. The parole has since then been extended at least five times on a payment of Rs200 crore each time.
As per earlier directions, Sahara is supposed to pay Rs600 crore by 6 February. The apex court on Thursday declined to grant an extension of the deadline for the payment.
Roy, Dubey and Roy Choudhary had been in judicial custody since 4 March 2014 for failing to deliver on promises made to return the money that two Sahara firms collected from depositors.
On 26 March that year, the court set the bail amount at an unprecedented Rs10,000 crore— half in cash and half as bank guarantee.
In March 2016, Sahara completed the cash payment of Rs5,000 crore towards bail for Roy and the two directors while the bank guarantee of Rs5,000 crore is still pending.
Sebi moved the apex court in August 2013 to recover Rs36,000 crore from Sahara to refund investors who bought securities from the two group firms. Sebi had asked the court to appoint a receiver who would dispose of Sahara’s domestic and offshore properties and raise the money.
The case will be heard next on 7 February.
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 the Securities and Exchange Board of India. Mint is contesting the case.