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Sahara saviors deny fraud, say ready to buy Sahara assets

Mirach Capital Group CEO Saransh Sharma.

Washington, Feb 6 (IANS) Denying “unfounded” allegations of forgery, the US-based Mirach Capital Group has asserted that it remains “ready, willing and able” to buy Sahara assets, but its loan offer was no longer on the table.

The syndicate of five UK and US investors, which had last month made a $2 billion loan offer to embattled Sahara group chief Subrata Roy, in turn accused Sahara of repeatedly acting “to undermine the transaction, and thereby waste the time of our investors.”

Roy, who has been locked up in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail since March on the Supreme Court’s orders for Sahara’s failure to refund investors needs to raise about $1.6 billion to secure his release on bail.

With special permission of the apex court, Roy has been trying to raise the money by negotiating from jail the sale of properties.
These include the Plaza Hotel in New York, the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, Sahara Star in Mumbai and Aamby Valley resorts in Maharashtra.

Mirach Capital Group, which was specially formed for the execution of the Sahara deal, had initially offered a loan against Sahara group’s hospitality properties, according to its Indian-American CEO Saransh Sharma.

But “Mirach has faced a number of challenges in closing this transaction; nevertheless, we remain steadfast and are ready, willing, and able to acquire these assets,” he said in an emailed statement Thursday.

“The Amicus Curiae, Sahara’s legal counsel, Mr. Subrata Roy, and other essential parties including our investors, have been made privy to the details indicating our willingness and ability to successfully execute this transaction,” Mirach stated.

“In spite of the court mandates to raise bail, Sahara has always been and continues to be an unwilling seller of these assets,” it said.

“They have thus repeatedly acted to undermine the transaction, and thereby waste the time of our investors, SEBI, and the Honourable Supreme Court of India,” the group said.

“The dangerous allegations made by Sahara are indicative of a direct intent to destabilise a deal structure that, given its high rate of return, would benefit Mirach and it’s investors,” it said.

Initially, Mirach Capital Group said it had reached a deal with Sahara to provide a structured loan package, including taking over the debt on the foreign assets from Bank of China, and a sale of the Indian assets.

Consistently, Mirach has been interested in an outright sale of the assets, however, Sahara would only agree to exclusivity under the loan structure as outlined, it said.

“Upon recognizing their inability to make the first interest payment on the loan, and thus in danger of losing their assets at a discounted rate through default, members of the Sahara Group violated the exclusivity agreement and began shopping the assets for a sale,” Mirach alleged.

Mirach Group said it had learned of this after representatives of the Sahara Group approached members of Mirach’s syndicate.

“Following Mirach’s multiple notices to Sahara that they were in breach of contract, Sahara then began to take an adversarial position against Mirach, and began to attempt to discredit and smear Mirach’s reputation,” it said.

“Any such claims of Sahara being defrauded by Mirach are untrue and are being presented in an effort to unravel the deal and shelter Subrata Roy,” Mirach said.

Proof of Mirach’s financial capabilities were previously verified directly with Sahara’s lawyers, and a simple meta data test will show no documents have been forged, it said.

Upon agreement of Sahara with support from the Supreme Court of India to a sale of the assets, Mirach said it “stands ready to publicly disclose the identity of our investors who have historically earmarked funds for this transaction to which Mirach has had access.”

Numerous financial institutions, legal counsel, and investors, have repeatedly declined the opportunity to engage with this transaction because of the public profile and legal troubles of Roy, it said.

Mirach likewise recognized the associated risks, but nonetheless was committed to rescue the distressed assets in the centre of this proposed structure, the statement added.

“In light of the breach of contract, Mirach is no longer considering an offer for the loan structure, however remains ready, willing and able to facilitate an acquisition of these assets,” it said.

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