Sahara Group's founder and chairman, Subrata Roy, recently passed away at the age of 75. From humble beginnings, Roy had sculpted a colossal and diverse conglomerate that stands among the most esteemed in our nation.
His journey witnessed the Sahara Group being featured in the Time Magazine, and witnessing ventures into diverse realms, including owning cricket teams and airlines. Here is a quick glance at Roy's journey in building a multi-faceted empire.
1948: Subrata Roy was born in Araria, Bihar, India. His parents hailed from Dhaka, Bikrampur, East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh).
1976:Subrata Roy joined Sahara Finance, a struggling chit fund company. In 1978, he took charge and led a successful turnaround by overhauling its financial model.
Late 1990s: Roy had later relocated to Lucknow, making it the headquarters of his rapidly expanding conglomerate. It subsequently became India's largest conglomerate, with interests spanning finance, education, real estate, media, entertainment, and hospitality. The Hindi newspaper Rashtriya Sahara was inaugurated in 1992. During the late 1990s, the ambitious Aamby Valley City project near Pune was initiated. In 2000, Sahara TV was launched, later renamed Sahara One.
Early 2000s: As the conglomerate fortified its presence in the real estate sector, Sahara made significant acquisitions, including the iconic Grosvenor House Hotel in London and a substantial stake in New York City's Plaza Hotel. These acquisitions marked Sahara Group's global footprint in the hospitality industry, eventually diversifying its real estate portfolio on an international scale.
2010: SEBI barred Sahara India Pariwar chief Subrata Roy and affiliated firms, SIREC (Sahara India Real Estate Corp) and SHIC (Sahara Housing Investment Corp), from raising public funds due to the alleged illegal collection of funds through OFCDs (optionally fully convertible debenture). Sahara appealed to the Allahabad High Court, securing an order preventing SEBI from further action until a court decision is reached.
2011: Things started to take a downturn as the Delhi High Court issued warrant against Roy for alleged investor deception in a housing project. The court temporarily halted proceedings. Later the Supreme Court directed disclosure of Sahara India Real Estate's OFCD scheme details. SEBI ordered immediate refunds for OFCD funds and mandated (alongside SAT) two Sahara group companies to refund assets obtained through investors with 15 per cent interest.
2014: Subrata Roy was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police due to his failure to comply with the Supreme Court's summons and the inability to repay the owed amount to investors. He was then sent to Tihar Jail.
Between 2014 and 2016, Subrata Roy was granted bail multiple times. In May 2016, he was released on parole from Tihar jail. Earlier this year, the Union Ministry launched the Sahara refund portal as a crucial step in commencing the refund process for millions of small depositors. These individuals had suffered significant losses following the collapse of the Sahara Group.