Subrata Roy, the chief of the Sahara conglomerate, one of India's biggest corporate groups, has said he feels victimised by a chain-reaction of events that began with a political vendetta, followed by regulatory clampdowns by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
"It started as a political vendetta against us in 2005, and thereafter it became a chain reaction. First RBI took actions against us in 2008 and thereafter SEBI clamped down on our businesses," said Mr Roy.
He met with SEBI representatives in Mumbai yesterday to explain how the firm is refunding thousands of small investors, as ordered by the Supreme Court. Sources said SEBI wants to sell Mr Roy's personal and company assets to over Rs 24,000-crore worth funds to be returned to the investors.
Mr Roy said that other businesses of Sahara group were getting affected because of SEBI's actions, but he was ready for a "fight to finish". The Sahara chief also said that he is confident that the matters will be resolved in due course.
SEBI has charged Sahara India Real Estate Corp Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) of "various illegalities" in raising these funds. The Supreme Court has asked the companies to return this money to over three crore bondholders, while SEBI has been asked to facilitate the refund after verifying genuineness of the investors.
A combative Roy claimed that his group has been target of personal vendetta by "certain" officials from RBI and Sebi. Sahara chief further said that 60 per cent of his time has been wasted in fighting Sebi in last two years, which could have been otherwise utilised for "some constructive work".
"We have suffered a lot because of this," he said. Asked whether he felt victimised, Mr Roy added: "Definitely, we are. We have been the target of SEBI for no reasons."
He, however, ruled out any political conspiracy at play in the current scenario and said that the politics was at play in problems created for his group way back in 2005.
"Today, the issues being raised against us do not appear to be linked to the original political matters of 2005," he said, but refused to specify what those issues were, saying it was an old matter and should not be raised at this time.
Mr Roy has often been described as being close to various political leaders, especially those from Uttar Pradesh.
He also denied the allegations of his group companies being used to launder the funds of rich politicians and others and dared the "entire system" to prove even one case of fictitious investor accounts or money laundering.
After appearing before SEBI last afternoon, Mr Roy told reporters that his personal assets were worth only about Rs 3 crore and he had no immovable properties.