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Oct 20, 2011 at 10:09am IST

Sahara asked to return Rs 24000cr to investors

Mumbai: In a historic order, the SEBI appellate tribunal ruled that Sahara Group would have to repay over Rs 24,000 crore it had collected in the form of optionally convertible debentures.

However, investors still feel there's very little hope of getting their money back.

One of the investors, Anil Upadhyay, has little hopes despite the SEBI tribunal asking the company to return the money within six weeks.

"There are thousands of companies which have taken the money from people and not returned. I feel the same will happen with Sahara," said Upadhyay.

Upadhyay also said that the irregularities could have been checked much earlier.

Sahara started collecting money under optionally convertible debentures in the names of Sahara India Real Estate and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation around 2005.

If was after complaints from the investors that SEBI stepped in and directed the companies to pay back over Rs 24000 crore to over two crore investors with a 15 per cent interest.

Sahara challenged the order stating both the companies were unlisted so it was under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and not SEBI.

However, the tribunal ruled that the company had flouted the cap of 50 investors for a private issue and hence it was under SEBI's jurisdiction.

Investor forums pointed how the company misled authorities by claiming all the investors were employees or beneficiaries of the group, and hence the issue was a private issue.

What's surprising is that the companies' financial records are also missing.

"They have not filed any balance sheet," said Investor Guidance Cell investor Bhupendra Singh.

Subroto Roy's Sahara is in no mood to pay up. The group plans to move the Supreme Court over the issue.

The common thread in most financial irregularities uncovered recently is the manipulation of the often confusing and over lapping jurisdictions of regulatory bodies, leaving the investors in the lurch.