The Sahara group, headed by Subrata Roy Sahara, is a large diversified business group with interests in Finance, Media, Entertainment, Real Estate, and till sometime ago Aviation, besides many other businesses. The group appears to be well connected to politicians, film stars, sports-persons and, of course, the media. The group also sponsors the Indian cricket team. With a humble asset base of around Rs.1500/- in 1978, the group is now worth billions of dollars. That would make an amazing and inspirational story. But it’s a story that the media or Sahara hasn’t really made public. The journeys of a Dhirubhai or Narayanamurthy are pretty much folklore. The story of Subrata Roy Sahara, at best, is intriguing. Is there a bubble around the corner that might burst, that the media is avoiding?
Much of the group’s funding, activities and finances are shrouded in mystery and not much is known in the public domain. Recently SEBI had banned the group from raising public funds. In its order SEBI mentioned: “ It is crucial to probe into how the companies could have raised huge amount of money running into thousands of crores without conforming to prudent disclosure norms that govern public issues. Prima facie, it appears that in the guise of private placements, these companies are rampantly tapping huge amount of money by not disclosing the source of funds by circumventing the applicable framework of law”.
Sahara, of course, protested and the Allahabad High Court stayed the SEBI ban on December 13, 2010. Not too long ago, on August 21, 2010, Outlook magazine carried a story on consumers facing problems with Sahara’s housing schemes and how buyers had complained about Sahara not disclosing complete information in their offerings. A blogger tries a bit more to understand the mysteries surrounding this group. And there are also happy investors who claim to have higher earnings on their deposits with the group than regular banks would offer.
In the current season of scams it is important that most financial mysteries are looked into under a microscope. If nothing else, to doubly ensure public at large is not subjected to another mishap. This is not to suggest in any way that Sahara group might be a scam, far from it. This only seeks to unravel the mysteries for the benefit of investors and stake holders. At the very least it could enlighten people on a business model that might help inspire others.
Will the media now follow the money of the Sahara group?