Subrata Roy says has assets worth under $1M

Often described in media reports as a billionaire, the boss of the unlisted Sahara conglomerate said on Wednesday he had assets totalling roughly 50 million rupees.

Subrata Roy, locked in a battle with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) over a bond scheme that the Supreme Court deemed to be illegal, had been ordered by the regulator to provide details of his personal assets and two Sahara companies.

"SEBI would be astonished to hear my personal assets," Roy told reporters when he emerged after about an hour at SEBI headquarters.

SEBI accuses Sahara, best known as the lead sponsor of the Indian cricket team, of raising billions of dollars from small investors through an outlawed financial scheme and failing to comply with a court order to refund the money.

Sahara has said it repaid most of the investors and that its total liability is less than the 51.2 billion rupees it deposited with SEBI as the first repayment instalment following the top court's ruling that the bonds it issued were illegal.

In February, SEBI ordered a freeze on the assets of two Sahara companies as well as bank accounts and properties in Roy's name. SEBI is also seeking Supreme Court approval for the arrest of Roy and two Sahara directors.

Roy told reporters his assets included gold ornaments and gemstones worth about 30 million rupees, fixed deposits of 15.9 million rupees and cash and bank deposits of 3.4 million rupees. He said he had no "immovable property," or real estate.

Roy, besieged by journalists when he arrived at SEBI headquarters, said he had a loan of 110 million rupees for a sugar mill in Uttar Pradesh, where his company is headquartered.

Sahara has gained a global profile in recent years through its acquisition of London's Grosvenor House hotel and the Plaza Hotel in New York.

Roy says he espouses a philosophy of "collective materialism" and according to Sahara's website, the group shares its profits between staff, its internal fund and social development activities and has never declared a dividend.

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