The Enforcement Directorate probed senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel recently in connection with a multi-crore money laundering case. This also involved Gujarat-based firm Sterling Biotech and important promoters of the Sterling Group – the Sandesara brothers.
A three-member team of the agency reached Mr Patel at his residence in central Delhi. They did so to record his statement under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act). The agency had summoned Mr Patel, 70, for questioning but cited the lockdown. He referred to the COVID-19 outbreak guidelines that ask senior citizens to stay inside their place as the virus is particularly dangerous to those above 65 years of age.
The case related to a probe against Chetan and Nitin Sandesara, and a few others. It involves alleged multi-crore bank fraud by Sterling Biotech.
History Of The Case
The original charge-sheet, filed after a complaint made by the CBI and under the various provisions of PMLA. Also, they accused the company of taking loans from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which had turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans.
The charge sheet prepared stated the accused manipulated figures in the balance sheets. The balance sheets related to their flagship companies and induced banks to sanction higher loans. In the year 2018, the agency told the court that the main accused, involving the Sandesara brothers, may have fled India to avoid criminal prosecution. The agency told the court that it suspected the accused could be in Nigeria because they had extensive business interests there.
The agency said that investigations revealed that the promoters of Sterling Biotech introduced 250 companies in the country. Out of these, 200 were ‘Benam’ entities used to siphon loan funds obtained from various banks. The assets include four oil rigs, an oil field in Nigeria, an aeroplane, as well as a bungalow in London.
Reports of assets worth Rs. 4730 Cr made by the ED in 2018 which stands confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority under PMLA has surfaced.