Sahara hotels abroad likely to be attached


(News Agencies)New Delhi: Troubles continue to mount for the Sahara group, forced to deposit Rs 25,000 crore with market regulator Sebi, with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) moving the Supreme Court seeking provisional
attachment of the group’s three hotels and four other properties abroad. The agency alleged that these were acquired with illegal money. A hint about this plea was dropped by additional solicitor general Maninder Singh and senior advocate Rana Mukherjee, who appeared for the Union government, on Monday when a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri was debating attachment of the group’s prime Pune property Aamby Valley.The ED said it considered appropriate “to approach the SC for apprising and seeking permission… for issuance of provisional attachment order under Prevention of Money Laundering Act” in respect of Hotel Grosvenor in the UK, two US-based hotels – Dream Downtown and The Plaza – and four other properties abroad. ED termed these properties as “proceeds of crime”. The agency said Sebi came to know that Sahara Housing and Sahara Real Estate had together collected Rs 25,000 crore from around three crore investors through unsecured optionally fully convertible debentures (OFCDs), which were later declared illegal by the SC, after Sahara Prime City Ltd filed a draft red herring prospectus for a proposed initial public offer on September 30, 2009. “The director of enforcement has reasons to believe that Sahara Real Estate and Sahara Housing have collected huge funds by way of fraudulent means in the guise of OFCDs and were channelled through group companies and finally integrated the same in the accounts of Aamby Valley (Mauritius) Ltd, the integration of such illegal funds was done in the guise of loans/joint venture advances.
Thereafter, the said funds were used to procure properties mentioned abroad by way of acquiring the equity of the respective property owner entities,” the ED said.