Jailed Indian tycoon gets office to negotiate hotel sales
By Suchitra Mohanty
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's Supreme Court has granted a jailed business tycoon an office, a phone, Internet connection and three secretaries in the Delhi prison that has been his home for five months so he can sell two of his company's iconic hotels to help pay bail.
Subrata Roy, head of the Sahara conglomerate, was jailed on March 4 for failing to appear in court in a legal battle with India's capital market's watchdog. He needs to raise 100 billion rupees ($1.6 billion) to have a chance of release.
The Supreme Court gave him 10 working days from Monday to accomplish the sale of the Grosvenor House Hotel in London and the Plaza Hotel in New York.
So he can negotiate with potential bidders, Roy will get a conference room inside the jail complex, a mobile phone, laptop and desktop computers, Internet access and video conferencing facilities, as long as he pays for them.
Three of his company's secretaries will be allowed to join him to assist with the sale, the court said.
"This is a distress situation. It is a battle of nerves. And we need all the facilities and gadgets to negotiate the deal," Harish Salve, one of India's top lawyers who represented Sahara in the case, told the court on Friday.
If Roy raises the funds and deposits them with the regulator, the court will meet again to decide on any further conditions for his release.
Roy was jailed after he failed to appear at a contempt hearing in the long-running dispute over the company's failure to repay billions of dollars to investors who were sold outlawed bonds. He has yet to be charged over the bonds dispute and denies any wrongdoing. Continued...