Corporate Feb 7, 2013
The Sahara group's hotel acquisition story is becoming murkier.
An investigation by the Business Standard has thrown up a complex web of transactions that enabled the controversial business group to flow fund seamlessly across nations to help it buy London's Grosvenor House in December 2010.
In 2010, the group had allegedly opened "several bank accounts abroad and floated companies in Mauritius and the UK" to move, the report says.
Interestingly, the move came even as the Securities and Exchange Board started investigating the fund raising by two Sahara group companies-Sahara India Real Estate Corp (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Invest Corp (SHICL)-through optionally fully convertible debentures.
The BS report tracks the flow of funds from India to abroad, through various banks such as UBS and Bank of China, even as the group managed to buy time seeking clarification from Sebi and court's intervention.
It is surprising that the group has managed to buy two more hotels reportedly for over Rs 4,000 crore, while its repayment obligation to OFCD investors, as ordered by the Supreme Court, kept coming down.
The group now claims that it owes only Rs 2,620 crore to the investors. Until now, it has submitted Rs 5,120 crore (along with a buffer of Rs 2,500 crore to cover discrepancies) to SEBI, which is overseeing the refunds.
Sahara officials have, however, denied any wrong doing in the story.
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