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Sahara initiates legal action against Mirach, eyes new deal

The company alleged that Mirach's criminal conduct and lack of financial capabilities to honour such huge commitments led to the breaking down of its deal with Sahara.

twitter-logoPTI | February 12, 2015 | Updated 19:24 IST
Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy
Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy (Photo: Reuters)

Accusing Mirach Capital of cheating and forgery in the failed $2.05 billion loan arrangement, Sahara on Thursday said it has initiated legal action against the US-based firm and it is now working on a new deal to raise funds to secure bail for its chief Subrata Roy.

The crisis-hit group alleged that Mirach and its CEO Saransh Sharma's criminal conduct and lack of financial capabilities to honour such huge commitments led to the breaking down of its deal with Sahara, leading to the loss of precious time, resources and position of Sahara.

"... Sahara is now taking legal actions both of civil and criminal nature against such gross criminal conduct of MCG (Mirach Capital Group) and their officers, both in India as well as in the US", a Sahara spokesperson said.

He further said that an FIR has already been filed in this regard, while adding that the group is now working on another deal and Sahara will comply the order (of the Supreme Court) very soon.

There was no immediate reply to queries mailed to Mirach, which had earlier accused Sahara of going back on the deal and also warned the Indian group of legal action.

Mirach had on Wednesday formally called off its $2.05 billion loan financing for Saharas and said it has returned the entire due diligence fees of $2.625 million to them.

It also accused Sahara of being an unwilling seller for the three overseas properties - The Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York and the Grosvenor House in London.

With its financing arrangement, which involved transfer of loans taken by Saharas from Bank of China for three these hotels to a clutch of investors, Mirach had emerged as a white-knight in Sahara's efforts to secure release of its jailed chief Subrata Roy till its syndicate loan offer got embroiled in an alleged forged letter controversy.

Sahara and Mirach were asked to finalise their deal by February 20 to help arrange funds for securing release of Roy and his two colleagues, who have been lodged in Tihar Jail for almost a year now.

While calling off the loan deal, Mirach on Wednesday said it was still willing to arrange a full buyout of Sahara's three overseas hotels for a similar amount of $ 2.05 billion.

The loan deal fell apart after Bank of America disclosed that it was not involved in the deal as was being claimed.   

Sahara said that its own due diligence found the letter to be forged, which was purportedly from Bank of America and claimed to provide guarantees worth $1.05 billion for the Mirach-Sahara deal.

The Supreme Court, which had asked Sahara to deposit over Rs 24,000 crore to Sebi in August 2012 for further repayment to investors, was informed yesterday that the Mirach deal has failed.

Only a part of these funds has been deposited by Sahara with Sebi, although the group claims to have already repaid over 93 per cent of investors directly.

In a detailed statement on its side of story in the loan arrangement with Mirach and the eventual collapse of the deal, Sahara said the MOUs and basic agreements were signed between the two parties after several rounds of discussions, negotiations and meetings, in person, through e-mail communications and on telephone.

The deal involved mainly three components - taking over of Bank of China loan for a sum of about $900 million, providing a 'junior loan' of $650 million to Sahara against the mortgage of three foreign hotels and an investment of $400 million in an Indian hospitality arm of Sahara.

Sahara said it had asked Mirach to provide proof of funds to show its capability to carry out its commitments, to which Mirach agreed to provide a letter from Bank of America for $1.05 billion.

Mirach sought $2.625 million as compensation for blocking the funds, which was given by Sahara, the group said, while adding that it subsequently got a letter purportedly issued by Bank of America that Mirach had $1.05 billion in its account and the same has been blocked for Sahara deal.

The Supreme Court was informed about this proposed deal on January 9.

Later on January 31, a Bank of America branch manager informed Sahara that the said letter, purportedly issued by him, was neither issued by him nor signed by him, the group said.

As such, the said letter was a forged letter, it added.

Subsequently, Sahara began its own due diligence and sent a person to the US to check its veracity, while submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court about the same.

Sahara said it even confronted Saransh Sharma on the same, who, in turn, was not been able to confirm the veracity of the said BofA letter.

The group also alleged that Sharma did not refund to it the retention/blocking fee of $ 2.625 million.

It also termed as unfounded claims of Mirach that BofA refused to be a party to this transaction citing integrity issues with Sahara.

Sahara said it was left with no option but to rescind the deal and is also contemplating to take civil action for damages for causing wilful loss by Mirach and its officers.

On Mirach's claims that it was interested in purchase of three foreign hotels, Sahara said it has found that the US-based firm has no such huge funds of its own and is trying to build a consortium of various corporates to jointly fund for taking over of the said hotels.

It also alleged that the financial capabilities of MCG and Sharma are doubtful and mischievous.

Sahara is now taking all sorts of legal actions against such gross criminal conduct of Mirach and their officers, both in India as well as in the US, the group spokesperson said.

Sahara said that Mirach had always defended the purported BofA letter and claimed that funds were available in that account.

It also raised questions about the source of the said letter and the signature thereon, among others. A blame-game has been continuing between Sahara and Mirach for about a week now over their floundered deal.

The three iconic hotels - The Plaza and Dream Downtown in New York and Grosvenor House in London - were acquired by Saharas between 2010-2012 at an estimated valuation of $1.55 billion.

Market experts peg their current valuation at upwards of $2.2 billion, after taking into account the appreciation in their values.

Mirach, however, says the three hotels can get a maximum valuation of $1.67 billion, while the prevailing distressed circumstances can bring down the value to as low as $700 million.

The US-based firm had earlier sought a formal apology from Sahara for going back on the deal.

Sharma, who is himself facing legal lawsuits for a few cases in the US and has reportedly admitted to wrongdoings in the past in a case relating to stealing database, had also warned of initiating legal recourse and seeking compensation from Sahara.

The Sahara-Mirach deal took a curious turn after Bank of America's disclosure that it was not the banker as claimed earlier for this proposed financing arrangement.

Sharma however claimed that a banker from Bank of America had sent an e-mail on December 17, 2014 directly to Sahara confirming financial capabilities.

According to him, on December 19, 2014, Bank of America officially withdrew to act as escrow agent to this transaction citing integrity issues with Sahara as the reason for not being involved with the transaction.

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