SC may Lift Em­bargo on Sa­hara Ac­counts to Let Co Raise Money

The Economic Times - - Companies - SA­MAN­WAYA RAU­TRAY

The Supreme Court on Mon­day hinted at lift­ing a court-im­posed em­bargo on bank ac­counts and as­sets to per­mit Sa­hara to raise .` 5,000 crore in cash and an­other .` 5,000 crore by way of a bank guar­an­tee to se­cure the re­lease of chair­man Subroto Roy, but re­jected a plea to or­der his im­me­di­ate re­lease be­fore any pay­ments.

A new bench com­pris­ing Jus­tices TS Thakur and AK Sikri, which shut the door firmly on a plea by Sa­hara to first re­lease Roy, to help the com­pany raise .` 10,000 crore. Roy has been im­pris­oned since March 4, 2014, af­ter Sa­hara failed to pay .` 24,000 crore to Sebi as di­rected by the top court in an or­der passed on Au­gust 31, 2012.

The bench now hear­ing the case was con­sti­tuted af­ter the re­tire­ment of Jus­tice KS Rad­hakr­ish­nan and re­cusal of Jus­tice JS Khe­har from the case.

On Mon­day, Sa­hara lawyer Ab­hishek Manu Singhvi sought Roy’s re­lease and as­sured the top court that the amount would be de­posited with 60 days of his re­lease, but the court wouldn’t hear of it. “No one is will­ing to buy if I am in jail,” Singhvi said. “I can’t stay in­side end­lessly till I pro­duce the amount,” he said, seek­ing a 60-day win­dow for Roy to raise the money. “I will go back to jail if I can’t pay in 60 days.”

“That is not the spirit of the court or­der,” Jus­tice Thakur said re­ject­ing his pro­posal, re­fer­ring to the ear­lier bench’s or­der that Roy would have to pay .` 10,000 crore be­fore he could be re­leased. The new bench also re­jected a plea for plac­ing Roy un­der house ar­rest in ei­ther Luc­know or Mum­bai, till that amount was paid.

“This stale­mate helps no one, def­i­nitely not the de­pos­i­tor. Make a fi­nite pro­posal which is log­i­cally ac­cept­able,” the bench said, be­fore list­ing the is­sue again for de­lib­er­a­tions next week. Roy is stuck in Ti­har Jail till then. Dur­ing court pro­ceed­ings, Sa­hara of­fered to pay .` 3,000 crore ly­ing in its ac­counts within five to seven days of lift­ing of the freeze on its ac­counts. It also of­fered to sell some Amby Val­ley prop­er­ties, a Sa­hara real es­tate project, to raise the re­main­ing .` 2,000 crore and se­cure a .` 5,000-crore bank guar­an­tee. But the bench wanted Sa­hara to sell only one property for the time be­ing to raise .` 2,000 crore by way of cash to add to the .` 3,000 crore held in its ac­counts.

The top court also wanted Sa­hara to se­cure the .` 5,000-crore bank guar­an­tee by mort­gag­ing its prop­er­ties, in­stead of sell­ing it out­right. The bench ques­tioned the val­u­a­tion of the as­sets listed by Sa­hara as part of its ef­forts to raise the .` 10,000 crore. “This will be in a way a dis­tress sale,” the bench ob­served, hint­ing that the prop­er­ties may not fetch the ex­pected val­ues. “How do you pro­pose then to raise the bal­ance (of the .` 37,000-crore odd dues)?” Sa­hara then claimed this list of 70 prop­er­ties sub­mit­ted to the top court was not “ex­haus­tive”. The bench also sought to know in de­tail the mode of dis­posal. “Will it be auc­tion or by way of ne­go­ti­a­tions? What will be the re­serve price?”

New bench com­pris­ing Jus­tices TS Thakur & AK Sikri shut the door firmly on a plea by Sa­hara to first re­lease Roy to help co raise 10kcr

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