India's top court yesterday ordered the arrest of the head of the giant Sahara business group for failing to appear in a case involving repayment of billions of dollars illegally collected from small investors.
The Supreme Court issued the order after Subrata Roy's lawyer said the flamboyant billionaire could not appear because his elderly mother was ill, the latest twist in the 18-month-long case.
"The arms of this court are very long. We can get him, we are issuing a warrant against him," said Judge K S Radhakrishnan, rejecting the lawyer's argument and ordering Roy to appear on March 4.
On Tuesday the court rejected Roy's request for an exemption from appearing in person over delays in repaying money collected from rural savers through bond sales.
Sahara raised around 200 billion rupees from millions of savers in a process judged by authorities in 2012 to be against the law.
The court then ordered the group to hand over money to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), the securities regulator, which is overseeing the repayment process.
In February last year Sebi ordered the bank accounts of two of Sahara's companies to be frozen.
During the hearing on Tuesday, the court said Sebi could go ahead with sales of Sahara properties to recover some of the money.
Roy's Sahara empire extends from a stake in a Formula 1 racing team to a sprawling Indian luxury township, and once included the iconic New York Plaza Hotel.