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Sahara: U.K. Sinha lauds former Finance Ministers

U.K. Sinha. File

U.K. Sinha. File  

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Ex-SEBI chief credits them for action

Crediting three successive Finance Ministers — Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram and the late Arun Jaitley — for SEBI’s strong action against the Sahara Group, the market regulator’s former chief U.K. Sinha has said the three leaders stood their ground and did not interfere in the matter despite repeated attempts by vested interests.

Mr. Sinha also praised former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his sound advice on how to balance the multiple roles of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and applauded current Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being a “very inquisitive” leader and always being firm in his belief that no person big or small should be spared for any wrongdoing.

The SEBI had ordered Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd (SHICL) in 2011 to refund the money raised from investors through certain bonds known as Optionally Fully Convertible Bonds (OFCDs).

According to their own admissions, the net amount raised by the two companies was more than ₹24,000 crore from over 3 crore investors.

After a long process of appeals and cross-appeals, the Supreme Court on August 31, 2012 upheld the SEBI’s directions asking the two firms to refund the money collected from investors with 15% interest.

In his new book Going Public: My Time at Sebi, Mr. Sinha has said that the Sahara case attracted substantial media attention and political leaders across the party took keen interest in the matter.

The biggest and most expensive legal minds in the country appeared for Sahara at various stages.

During the meetings of the parliamentary standing committee on Finance, and even outside, questions were raised as if one business group had been targeted in a singular manner in trying to amend the SEBI Act, Mr. Sinha added.

The former SEBI Chairman, during whose tenure the case was at its most important juncture, also said that attempts were made in a variety of ways, including threats of raising privilege motions in Parliament and by intimidating SEBI officials.

“However, it goes to the credit of successive Finance Ministers — Mr. Mukherjee, Mr. Chidambaram and Jaitley — that they stood their ground and didn’t interfere in the matter,” he added.

In addition, he said the Ministers and officials of the Finance Ministry also deserve credit for upholding the rule of law and keeping up the morale of SEBI officials.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 6:51:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sahara-uk-sinha-lauds-former-finance-ministers/article30487458.ece

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