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SEBI demands $8.4 billion from Sahara in SC petition

Markets regulator SEBI has filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to direct embattled Sahara conglomerate chief Subrata Roy and two of his companies to deposit 626 billion rupees ($8.4 billion) that it said was due to its investors.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) told the Supreme Court that Sahara had failed to comply with 2012 and 2015 court orders to deposit the entire amount it collected from investors along with 15% annual interest, according to a copy of the petition filed on Wednesday.

Sahara has been embroiled in a battle with SEBI over repaying billions of dollars to investors who put their money in a bond scheme that was later ruled to be illegal.

Roy was arrested in March 2014 for failing to attend a contempt of court hearing and has been on bail since 2016. He has denied any wrongdoing. SEBI said Sahara’s non-compliance over eight years had caused the regulator “great inconvenience” and that those guilty of contempt should be taken into custody if they failed to deposit the amount.

“Saharas have made no efforts whatsoever to comply with the orders and directions,” SEBI told the court. “On the other hand contemnors’ liability is increasing daily and contemnors are enjoying their release from custody,” it said.

The regulator said only a part of the principal amount had been deposited by Sahara and the balance with interest had ballooned to more than 626 billion rupees.

A Sahara spokesman disputed the amount saying the company had already deposited about 220 billion rupees with the regulator, which it said was “mischievously” adding interest on the entire amount to arrive at the sum demanded.

In its defence, Sahara has previously told the court that it had refunded in cash most of the money it collected from investors and submitted relevant documents with the regulator, which was not verifying them.