Authorities in the US are investigating a Florida-based investment company over allegations that it gave a forged bank letter that would have paved the way for the release of Subrata Roy, the jailed chairman of India’s Sahara Group.
Reuters reports that Mirach Capital Group had pledged more than $1 billion to Sahara as bail for Roy who was jailed last year for contempt charges after Sahara failed to comply with a court order to repay investors in an illegal bond sale.
The bail amount for Roy, who owns London’s Grosvenor House hotel and the Plaza in New York, was set at $1.6 billion – the highest ever in India.
Sahara then sought to raise the money by using the hotel properties as collateral.
The company negotiated for funds with Mirach, a group set up by former broker Saransh Sharma, who lives in Northern California.
Mirach gave a letter to Sahara that purported to prove the U.S. group had the funds in an account at Bank of America to lend to the Indian company, but after a Reuters report earlier this month raised questions about the authenticity of the document, Sahara said it was a forgery.
Sahara said it would initiate civil and criminal legal action against Mirach in India and the United States.
Reuters quoted a US source as saying that the FBI’s San Francisco office is currently investigating Sharma .
The FBI has refused to confirm or deny an investigation.
A lawyer for Sharma told Reuters that that he has not been contacted by the FBI and described the Reuters source as a “propagandist for some group that is adverse to Mr Sharma and Mirach Capital”.
Roy’s bail reflects the scale of the illegal bond transactions.
The court has said investors need to be repaid as much as $7 billion including accrued interest.