Subrata Roy, the controversial tycoon behind India’s Sahara Group, has passed away at 75.
One of India’s most controversial tycoons, Subrata Roy has died aged 75 after a heart attack, his company said, sparking fear by some about recovering their investments.
Roy, a household name in India because of his meteoric rise and eventual downfall and disgrace, died on Tuesday in Mumbai from cardiorespiratory arrest, his Sahara Group said in a statement.
The flamboyant businessman was featured in the 2020 Netflix series Bad Boy Billionaires.
Born in 1948 in the eastern state of Bihar, Roy started Sahara in 1978 with 2,000 rupees, or $24 in today’s money, growing the business into a multibillion-dollar company involved in finance, housing, manufacturing and the media.
He raised 200 billion rupees — today worth $2.4 billion — from millions of small savers in rural India via an illegal bond scheme.
Roy was taken into custody in 2014 after he failed to comply with a court order to repay money to his investors, but walked out of jail two years later. He denied any wrongdoing.
Sahara always insisted it was only helping poor and mainly rural investors, while Roy said he has been a victim of “character assassination”.
But Vijay Kumar Tandon, a 74-year-old retired academic in the northern city of Lucknow, said he was worried after failing in the past to access his investment.
“My only recourse is reliance on government schemes to facilitate the release of my funds,” Tandon said Wednesday.
Urmila Devi, a small-time investor in Bihar state, said she had lost hope of recovering her money.
“If the owner is dead, who will pay us?” she said. “Our claim will get lost.”
The powerful businessman, known for his rags-to-riches story and mansion modelled on the White House, once had stakes in New York’s Plaza Hotel as well as London’s Grosvenor House.
The wedding festivities of his two sons in 2004 cost more than $60 million.
Roy was once the sponsor of the Indian cricket team, hockey team and also had a stake in the Formula One racing team, Force India.
Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state, said in a social media post that Roy’s death was an “emotional loss”, calling him a “very sensitive person with a big heart who helped countless people”.
– By: © Agence France-Presse