(Adds Sahara statement in paragraph 3)
NEW DELHI, March 15 India's securities regulator
is seeking court approval to arrest the head of the Sahara
conglomerate, which it accuses of failing to comply with an
order to repay billions of dollars collected from investors in
outlawed bonds, according to a court document and a lawyer
present at a Friday court hearing.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear the matter next month,
the lawyer told Reuters, declining to be identified because he
was not authorised to speak with the media.
Sahara, in a statement late on Friday, said it had complied
with the court's order and that its total liability was less
than the 51.2 billion rupees ($943 million) it had deposited
with the regulator.
The application, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, asks
that the court pass an order allowing the Securities and
Exchange Board of India (SEBI) "to take measures for arrest and
detention in civil prison of ... Subrata Roy Sahara ... after
giving reasonable opportunity of hearing".
SEBI's application also asks the court to authorize the
arrest of two Sahara directors.
The regulator, which has waged a lengthy battle with
unlisted Sahara and its head, Subrata Roy, offered no comment.
Last month SEBI ordered a freeze on the assets and bank
accounts of two Sahara Group companies as well as on all bank
accounts and properties in Roy's name.
Sahara, a household name in India for its sponsorship of the
national cricket team, owns the Grosvenor House hotel in London
and last year bought the Plaza Hotel in New York.
The group was ordered in August to repay sums raised by what
the court described as "dubious" means from nearly 30 million
small investors, along with 15 percent interest a year.
The two Sahara firms had raised a total of 257.8 billion
rupees ($4.75 billion) in the outlawed bonds as of April 2011,
according to Sahara court affidavits cited by SEBI.
In December, the court ordered Sahara to pay an initial
deposit of 51.2 billion rupees with SEBI, another 100 billion
rupees in the first week of January and the remainder in the
first week of February.
Sahara said last month that its total liability was unlikely
to exceed the 51.2 billion rupees it had deposited with the
($1 = 54.3100 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Writing by Tony Munroe;
Editing by Ron Popeski and Jane Baird)