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Ban on Sahara firms: Sebi issues notice

Ban on Sahara firms: Sebi issues notice
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First Published: Sat, Apr 16 2011. 12 27 AM IST
Updated: Sat, Apr 16 2011. 12 27 AM IST
Mumbai: Capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Friday issued a public notice alerting investors about a ban on money mobilization by two Sahara group firms.
The notice followed a Mint investigation which showed that Sahara India Real Estate Corp. Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corp. Ltd continued to raise money, one week after the ban came into force.
Agents and investors across the country told Mint that they were not aware of any such ban and the money-raising activity continued.
The Sebi notice said the high court vacated its 13 December interim order on 7 April.
“The investors are hereby informed that on April 7, 2011, the hon’ble high court inter alia observed that the information furnished by the petitioners (to Sebi) in the process of inquiry cannot be said to be any information in the eyes of law, within the directives issued by the court and that they do not find any ground to continue with the interim order,” the Sebi notice said.
According to the notice, the court order followed a petition moved by Sebi on 5 April, seeking to vacate the interim order.
The regulator said it had also sought a dismissal of Sahara’s writ petition on the ground that the said interim order is not complied with and the requisite information as sought by Sebi has not been provided.
In November, Sebi had banned Sahara India Real Estate, Sahara Housing Investment and the promoters and directors of the two companies from raising any money from the public.
Sahara India Real Estate had challenged Sebi’s order in a writ petition filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court.
In an interim order dated 13 December, the high court stayed the operation of the Sebi order. The order allowed Sebi to proceed with the inquiry, but restrained it from taking a final decision.
On 7 April, Sahara had submitted a CD containing more than 6.6 million names in the court. But it refused to share further information.
The court was to take up the case on Friday, but the bench could not be constituted as one judge was absent. The date of the next hearing is yet to be decided.
Prashant Chandra, counsel of the Sahara group, said the group is not ready to share any further information with Sebi. “We are not going to submit any information because Sebi in a written affidavit has not accepted our condition demanding confidentiality of the information shared with them,” he said.
The confidentiality clause has conditions restraining the regulator from reaching out to the investors, and sharing the information with other regulators and other government agencies. It also says the information cannot be made public in any other manner. This clause has become contentious as it would be a handicap for Sebi in any investigation it would want to conduct into the affairs of companies. The courts had permitted the regulator to conduct the investigations.
The Sebi counsel was unavailable for comment.
In a special leave petition filed by Sebi, the Supreme Court on 4 January observed that the regulator would be entitled to call for any information that it deems fit, including the names of the investors who have invested in optionally fully convertible debentures issued by the two Sahara group firms.
n.subramanian@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Apr 16 2011. 12 27 AM IST