Home Business Jailed Indian Billionaire Seeks Buyers to Make Bail

Jailed Indian Billionaire Seeks Buyers to Make Bail

by AFP
Prakash Singh—AFP

Prakash Singh—AFP

Subrata Roy is looking to sell the Plaza Hotel and Grosvenor House.

To secure bail, set by India’s Supreme Court at $1.6 billion, Indian businessman Subrata Roy is looking to sell his iconic foreign properties, including New York’s Plaza Hotel.

The Supreme Court on Friday gave Roy’s Sahara India Pariwar group “10 working days” to use a special conference room at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail “to negotiate sale of three foreign properties.” These properties are New York’s Plaza Hotel and Dream Downtown and London’s Grosvenor House.

“There are people interested in the properties, we can’t say more,” a Sahara official said on condition of anonymity. “We expect [the conference room] to start getting the equipment in by Tuesday,” the official added.

Indian media reports say Indian pharmaceutical billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla and U.S.-based Madison Capital Holdings may be interested in the properties.

“These hotels are on the block and whether they will be sold or whether they will enter into another arrangement with an investor they will only say at a later stage,” Roy’s lawyer, Harish Salve, told reporters separately.

Roy acquired a 75-percent stake in the Plaza in 2012 just as his legal woes were mounting. The three hotels are valued at a total of around $1.6 billion, according to a valuation cited by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court jailed Roy, known for his rags-to-riches story and mansion modeled on the U.S. White House, in March after he missed a court appearance in a long-running row with security regulators. The Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice T. S. Thakur, allowed Roy and two jailed company directors and three secretaries, video-conferencing and computers to facilitate sale negotiations. The three men will sleep at the conference facilities and be allowed to work from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. to allow for international time differences.

Sahara raised $3.2 billion from millions of small savers through an illegal bond scheme. Regulators ordered the group to pay the money back—even though the Supreme Court said there were “serious doubts about the existence” of the investors, fueling long-running allegations of money-laundering. Sahara has always denied the allegations and insisted the company was only helping poor, mainly rural investors who are hard to locate.

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