The Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by the Sahara group seeking an extension in the deadline for depositing money and documents with the Securities & Exchange Board of India (Sebi). In December, the court had ordered Sahara to make an initial deposit of Rs 5,120 crore, another Rs 10,000 crore in the first week of January and the remainder in the first week of February.
Here are the top 10 developments in the Sahara-Sebi dispute
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On February 13, Sebi ordered a freeze on the assets and bank accounts of two Sahara group companies, saying they had failed to heed a Supreme Court order to repay investors in a case involving more than Rs 24,000 crore. According to some media reports, more than 100 bank accounts of the group were affected by the order.
The market regulator also ordered a freeze on all bank accounts and properties in the name of the Sahara Group founder, Subrata Roy, and three other directors of the two firms, Sahara Housing Investment Corporation and Sahara India Real Estate Corporation, according to two separate orders posted on the regulator's website.
The assets ordered to be attached included those related to the group's Aambey Valley resort town near Pune, other real estate assets in Delhi, Mumbai and at other places across the country, shares, mutual funds and various other investments.
The Sebi statement said its order would be implemented with immediate effect and that the Reserve Bank of India and the Finance Ministry's Enforcement Directorate would be informed about the development.
The orders escalated the battle between the regulator and the unlisted Sahara. In a statement issued after the Sebi order, Sahara said the directives were based on "old facts" and had not taken into account redemptions it has made since January 2012, adding that its total liability was unlikely to exceed the Rs 5,120 crore it had deposited with the regulator. It added that the orders for attaching assets of individuals are "incorrect".
The group also ran a major advertisement campaign in newspapers claiming that "Sahara has nothing to pay (and) rather Sahara shall soon be eligible to take a big refund from Sebi", and that it was submitting to Sebi the provisional balance sheets of two companies as on December 31, 2012, for more clarity on the matter.
On Friday, Sebi cautioned investors and general public against transacting with the Sahara companies or persons associated with these companies. "Anyone transacting with them (Sahara India Real Estate Corp, Sahara Housing Investment Corp and their three promoters and directors) would be doing so at their own peril," it said.
The Sahara group was ordered in August to repay sums raised by what the Supreme Court called "dubious" means from nearly 3 crore small investors, with 15 per cent interest a year. The two Sahara firms raised a total of Rs 2,578 crore in bonds as of April 2011, according to Sahara court affidavits cited by Sebi.
In December, the court ordered Sahara to make an initial deposit of Rs 5,120 crore, another Rs 10,000 crore in the first week of January and the remainder in the first week of February with Sebi.
Sahara has accumulated a string of trophies in recent years, including a stake in a Formula One motor racing team and ownership of Grosvenor House hotel in London. In July last year, the group bought a 75 per cent stake in the iconic Plaza Hotel of New York. It reportedly paid $575 million (about Rs 3,000 crore) for the stake.
But its core client base is the towns and villages away from the shiny cities of modern India. There, Sahara sells investment products to often poor people in amounts as small as Rs 2 a day.