- The Enforcement Directorate to declare Sterling Biotech Promoters as fugitive economic offenders
- Biotech Group had been alleged Rs. 8,100 crore bank loan fraud case.
- The offenders have fled the country and suspected to be residing in Nigeria
- 7,000 crore assets in India and Abroad confiscated
- Charge sheet filed against 191 accused and 184 companies under Sterling Biotech Group
The Enforcement Directorate moved a special court of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Delhi to declare Sterling Biotech Promoters – Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, Dipti Sandesara, Hitesh Patel under various sections of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 as fugitive economic offenders. The owners of Gujarat – based Sterling Biotech Group had been alleged Rs. 8,100 crore bank loan fraud case.
The four offenders have fled the country to avoid criminal investigation against them. They are shifting countries to escape the law and are suspected to be residing in Nigeria, the United States or the United Arab Emirates as they have business connections in these places. All their assets in India and abroad have been confiscated which is worth Rs. 7,000 crores as part of the action under fugitive law.
The investigation reveals that Sandesaras have business interests largely in the oil sector in Nigeria and have numerous assets there. They have oil evacuation and transportation equipment in Nigeria, vessels are also registered in the Republic of Panama, they have immovable properties in the British Virgin Islands. These properties are sought to be confiscated under the Fugitive Offenders Act. An investigation is going on to identify their other properties in abroad.
The four accused with others had laundered the bank funds for their personal advantage and through a complex web of shell/benami companies had managed these companies through dummy directors. The Sandesara brothers hatched the criminal conspiracy by manipulating figures in the balance sheets of their flagship companies, cheated and induced banks to sanction higher loans. The investigation revealed that 249 such companies had been incorporated by the promoters of Sterling Biotech in India out of that 200 firms were found benami. They used these companies to siphon off loan funds obtained from various banks.
The Enforcement Directorate named 191 accused and 184 companies under the Sterling Biotech Group in the charge sheet filed in the special court. The Group of companies includes Sterling Biotech Limited, PMT Machines Limited, Sterling SEZ and Infra Limited, Sterling Port Limited, Sterling Oil Resources Limited, and 179 shell companies.
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