From an Indian jail, tycoon tries to sell the New York Plaza

Sat Aug 9, 2014 9:55pm EDT
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By Aditya Kalra and Devidutta Tripathy

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) - It's hardly the $30,000 a night royal suite, but after five months in India's biggest jail, the owner of the New York Plaza and London's Grosvenor House is thrilled to be able to use a modest office as he tries to sell the iconic hotels.

Indian tycoon Subrata Roy is putting up the two trophy properties and another luxury New York hotel for sale to raise $1.6 billion for the bail bond that will get him out of Tihar, a sprawling New Delhi prison complex that houses about 12,000 inmates.

About a minute's walk from the headquarters of the prison, Roy now has a 600 square feet (56 square meter) office where he can hold video conferences and receive visitors to try and sell or mortgage the hotels, say prison officials.

In a small adjoining room, there are three beds for Roy and two associates who have also been jailed.

"They are happy, they can now talk to known people all day," said one Tihar official, who described the setup to a Reuters reporter visiting the prison. "He is very satisfied with the arrangement."

"Our work will be done now," Roy told a senior prison officer after moving to the new office-cum-cell, according to the official.

Entry to the office was not possible because Roy was inside and contact with prisoners is prohibited without permission. Three guards stood by an unlocked metal gate before the building, one stood on the roof and one patrolled its grounds.

It's a race against time for the 66-year-old head of the Sahara conglomerate: Under a deadline set by the Supreme Court, Roy has just a few days left to post the 100 billion rupees in cash and bank guarantees that would secure his release.   Continued...

Sahara Group Chairman Subrata Roy gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Kolkata November 29, 2013. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri