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SEBI freezes over 100 bank accounts of 2 Sahara cos: Sources

Feb 13, 2013 08:51 PM IST Business Business

New Delhi: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Wednesday cracked down on Sahara group, freezing more than 100 bank accounts of two of its companies. Sources said that the immovable assets of the two companies were also frozen.

The SEBI also attached the assets and properties of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIREC) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation (SHIC), the sources added.

The action came days after the Supreme Court had questioned SEBI over the delay in action against Sahara. The apex court said the SEBI was free to freeze accounts and seize properties of Sahara Group's two companies for defying court order of refunding Rs 24,000 crore to investors.

The apex court had directed the two companies to refund about Rs 24,000 crore to their investors within three months with 15 per cent interest per annum for raising the amount from its investors in violation of rules and regulations. In stinging observations against the companies, the court had said that such economic offences must be dealt with "iron hand".

Sahara, on the other hand, justified its stand on not refunding the amount and said that large portion of the amount has already been redeemed to investors before the judgement was delivered. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the companies, said that nothing is due and it is difficult to deposit Rs 10,000 crore.

The apex court was hearing market regulator SEBI's contempt petition against SIREC and SHIC. Earlier, the Group had, on December 5, got nine weeks time from the Supreme Court to pay back Rs 24,000 crore with 15 per cent interest to over three crore investors in its two companies, with an immediate upfront payment of Rs.5,120 crore.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir had ordered the Group to immediately hand over a demand draft of Rs 5,120 crore to SEBI and said the balance amount shall be deposited with the market regulator in two instalments to be cleared by early February. SIREC had collected Rs.19,400.87 crore on March 13, 2008 and SHICL had collected Rs 6,380.50 crore. But the total balance on August 31 is Rs 24,029.73 crore after premature redumption.

The group might have to fork out around Rs 38,000 crore as of now which includes the principal amount of Rs 24,029.73 crore and interest of around Rs 14,000 crore.

With additional information from PTI