The Indian Supreme Court today ordered Sahara - part owners of the Force India Formula One team - to repay $3 billion to a group of their investors. According to the Supreme Court judgment, Sahara's fundraising - which saw $3 billion raised by millions of small investors - violated the country's securities regulations.
Between 2008 and 2011, Sahara raised $3.18 billion from 22 million private investors, the majority of whom had been inspired to invest in the brand following its high-profile involvement in Indian sport, primarily cricket.
According to Reuters, the bulk of those investors came from poor and rural areas with low banking penetration.
"They see Sahara on television everyday as sponsor of the cricket team and that leads them to believe that this is the best company," a spokesman for the Investors and Consumers Guidance Cell, a consumer activist group, told Reuters.
Sahara have been ordered to reimburse their investors within three months, and to pay 15 percent interest on the desposits made with the company.
The effect that this ruling is likely to have on Force India is still to be determined, but it is widely believed that it is Sahara's cash that has been keeping the team afloat since late 2011.
Vijay Mallya's financial woes have been well-documented, and the news that the team's other major investor is now having to pay out a hefty sum of cash does not look good for the Silverstone-based racers.