Sahara Group Staff Offer to Collect $835m for Subrata Roy's Release
Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy at the Supreme Court in New Delhi on 4 March, 2014.Reuters

A few employees of India's troubled Sahara Group have offered to collect 50bn rupees, from over one million salaried and field workers employed by the Group, to help get their boss Subrata Roy out of jail.

Directors of a unit of the group, Sahara's e-Multipurpose Society, and the group's "associates" have sought a minimum contribution of 100,000 rupees (£1,003) per head towards Roy's bail bond of 100bn rupees ($1.67bn), reported the Press Trust of India.

In return, contributors would receive shares in e-Multipurpose Society.

Pursued by the news agency, an unnamed senior Sahara official clarified that the letter had not been issued by Roy or by the management and that "it is only an emotional initiative from people in reaction to [the] prevailing situation."

$1.67bn Bail Bond

Earlier in the week, India's highest court said Roy, held in a Delhi jail since 4 March, would be granted interim bail once Sahara deposits 50bn rupees ($835m, £501m, €607m) in cash with market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and provide bank guarantees for another 50bn rupees.

Roy, whose company began accepting daily deposits of as little as 30 cents in 1978 and went on to build an $11bn business empire, is fighting allegations that his group failed to abide by a court order to repay 240bn rupees ($4bn) to depositors.

Roy, 65, has not been charged with a crime. He surrendered to police on 28 February after the court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant two days earlier for failing to heed its summons.

Roy, who calls himself "Sahara Sri", operates within the $670bn shadow-banking industry, which refers to the provision of capital by loans or investments between companies outside the formal banking system. It includes hedge funds, private-equity funds and insurance companies.

Sahara is the owner of properties such as London's Grosvenor House, New York's Plaza Hotel, and at least 120 companies, including television stations, a hospital, a dairy farm and retail shops selling everything from detergents to diamonds, alongside a stake in India's lone Formula One racing team.

Sahara also claims to own 14,600 hectares (36,000 acres) of land, an area slightly bigger than the city of Cambridge.

Roy is often described in media reports as a billionaire, although he claims to only have assets worth about 50 million rupees ($835,600).