Sahara-Sebi Refund Account: Sahara-Sebi refund account may be transferred to government

The government is looking into the legality of transferring unclaimed funds of the Sahara-Sebi Refund Account to the Consolidated Fund of India, with a provision to refund investors who stake claims later.

The death of Sahara Group founder Subrata Roy last week has put the spotlight on the fund. There have been few claimants for refunds in the decade since it was established.

The Supreme Court, in 2012, upheld an order by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), and directed group entities Sahara India Real Estate Corp and Sahara Housing Investment Corp to refund investors, with interest, depositing the funds with the capital markets regulator.

Barely any claimants
“If, after the verification of details furnished, (Sebi) is unable to find out the whereabouts of all or any of the subscribers, then the amount collected from such subscribers will be appropriated to the government of India,” the Supreme Court had said.

The option of transferring the amount to the Consolidated Fund of India with a separate account for refunding investors could be explored, said an official.

“The dedicated refund account under Sebi has barely seen claimants coming forward 11 years after the judgement,” the person said.

“Funds can be used for pro-poor programmes or any other public welfare,” said another official, adding that this can be done while setting up a separate window for refunding investors and that the issue will be legally examined.

Sahara depositors
As of March 31 this year, the total amount recovered from the group and deposited in the state-run banks was ₹25,163 crore, after paying out ₹138 crore to 17,526 applications involving 48,326 accounts.

Earlier this year, following a Supreme Court decision in March, ₹5,000 crore was transferred to the Central Registrar of Cooperative Societies for disbursement against legitimate dues of genuine depositors of the Sahara Group of Cooperative Societies, and a dedicated portal was created for refunds.

According to the latest order, the amount shall be paid to the depositors of the Sahara Group of Cooperative Societies out of ₹5,000 crore at the earliest, but not later than nine months from the date of the order. The balance will be transferred to the Sahara-Sebi Refund Account.

Home and cooperatives minister Amit Shah in July launched the dedicated portal set up for Sahara depositors to facilitate the refund process.

The Sahara entities had raised the money through optionally fully convertible debentures. Sebi had said this was done without its permission and asked Sahara to refund depositors.

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