NEW DELHI Supreme Court has asked the markets regulator to start the process of selling some of embattled conglomerate Sahara's real estate assets in the country to refund millions of investors in its illegal bonds, lawyers said on Tuesday.
Sahara, a household name in India as the former main sponsor of the national cricket team, has hotels overseas including the Plaza in New York and the Grosvenor House in London, besides vast real estate assets in India.
Its founder Subrata Roy was arrested in March 2014 after the company failed to comply with a court order to refund money raised from millions of small investors by selling them bonds later ruled to be illegal.
The country's top court in June last year said Sahara, which has been trying to raise funds since Roy's arrest, needed to repay the entire 360 billion rupees ($5.4 billion) the court says it owes investors in illegal bonds.
Sahara has previously said it had repaid 95 percent of its liability in that plan, which has not been accepted by the court.
On Tuesday, the court asked the regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) which is seeking redress for the bond investors, to submit a plan for selling Sahara's 86 properties in the country, said Sahara lawyer Gautam Awasthi.
These properties don't include any of its overseas assets, Sahara Star hotel in Mumbai and Aamby Valley luxury resort in the hills of western India, which bills itself as India's first planned city since independence, he said.
Lawyers for both Sahara and SEBI did not identify the properties that would be put on the block.
Sahara lawyer Awasthi said the original documents for the 86 properties were with SEBI, and that they are worth more than 400 billion rupees ($6 billion).
($1 = 66.4705 rupees)
(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Mark Potter)
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