NEW DELHI: Caught in a legal battle with Sebi and directed by the Supreme Court (SC) to refund Rs 19,000 crore to investors by depositing this amount with the market regulator, Sahara has asked for the appointment of a credible agency to verify the authenticity of claims of repayment made by the two Sahara companies - Sahara India Real Estate Corporation and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation.
Asked how the company proposed to meet the SC order and make repayments, a company executive said there were "huge redemption pressures" following the Sebi case and the two companies have already repaid bulk of the investments with these two companies . Now, this claim has become a case of their word against Sebi's claims, it was best to have "a credible agency to verfy our claims." He added that the agency should have not just members from Sebi but Sahara too. "Or else, there will be great difficulties in detecting the thousands of small investors who showed faith and put money with us and whom we have always repaid when they asked for their money." Only a transparent process of indentifying investors and checking out repayments would be fair to investors and to the spirit of the SC verdict, he said.
He added: "Sahara has produced auditors' certificate for the amount of outstanding liability . We are proposing that Sebi should publish public notices in newspapers, at least twice in 10 days, inviting claims of remaining claimants . This will make things crystal clear...We have to finish repayments fast or else repayments to remaining investors would be at the rate of 15% interest, while the money with us is earning just about 9%."
Asked why anyone would be convinced of Sahara's repayment claims, the spokesman said: "That's why we are asking for a credible agency to verify them... All our branch managers have given notarized certificate about the repayments and with a declaration that each and every investor can be produced if the need arises."
Asked about its claims of redemption pressures, the spokesman explained that since "April-May we are facing big problems and pressures across India following the SC order." Saying that this was not unexpected, the spokesman said that the Sahara companies have made immediate repayments as non-payment could have jeopardized the field agents "who live among the investor classes."
Unlike banks, Sahara raises money from poor people in remote areas where the banking network barely exists, the spokesman said. "These are usually not people who can provide KYC requirements. And yet is the security we provide to them that has created faith among millions of investors in Sahara. Part of the security also comes from our practice of making prompt repayment when a demand is raised. It is because of this that there has hardly been an investor complaint against us in all these years."