strange,” says a source in the ministry. “For instance, when a similar scheme with far less magnitude, Saradha Chit Funds, went down, there where riots and self-immolations. The investors of Sahara do not seem to be bothered, though Rs 20,000 crore are at stake.”
THE MYSTERIOUS CASH
In August 2012, the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) informed the ED and SEBI that when SEBI issued the first order restraining Sahara from taking any more investments, the group transferred approximately Rs 3,600 crore abroad without prior approval of the RBI. The ED’s case on forex violation in this matter is finished and pending adjudication against Sahara and banks.
In one of the largest ever reporting of suspicious cash transactions, the FIU also told enforcement agencies last year that it had noticed “substantial cash transactions” in 4,753 “additional bank accounts” of firms owned by the Sahara group, maintained in 50 banks across 23 states.
The Sunday Express has accessed the FIU data that covers the period from May 2013 and talks about transactions ranging from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 crore. The FIU has shared this with the CBI, ED and SEBI. According to sources, the agencies are now trying to match FIU data with profiles of the 66-odd lakh investors in SIRECL.
THE PROPERTY QUESTIONS
After Sahara failed to convince the apex court that it had refunded Rs 24,000 crore to investors in August 2012, the court ordered SEBI to attach Sahara’s properties and asked the group to submit titles equivalent to Rs 24,000 crore. SEBI later said that the titles submitted were grossly overvalued.
In November 2012, SEBI filed a contempt petition against Sahara for not following the Supreme Court order.
On February 26, 2014, Roy missed a directive to appear before the court and, two days later, was held for contempt. The court has given Subrata Roy and Sahara time till March 11 to come up with a plan to refund investors, failing which his custody could be prolonged.
In a reply to The Sunday Express, the Sahara group said, “The Supreme Court order dated 21.11.2013 states that Sahara Group of Companies shall not part with any movable and immovable properties. The order does not bind the group (from) carrying out normal business, and thousands of service centre/offices are carrying out ordinary course of business through current account as current accounts of the Sahara Group are not covered by the said order.”