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Rs 8,100-cr bank loan fraud case: ED moves court for open-ended NBWs against Sterling Biotech owners

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: December 24, 2018  | 18:52 IST

(Eds: Adding details) New Delhi, Dec 24 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate Monday approached a Delhi court seeking issuance of open ended non-bailable warrants (NBW) against four directors of a Gujarat pharma firm in a Rs 8,100-crore bank fraud case. The agency informed the court that it wanted to approach Interpol for issuance of Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Sterling Biotech Ltd (SBL) directors Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetankumar Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Hiteshkumar Narendrabhai Patel. ED's special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana, however, told the court that the Interpol guidelines for opening RCN against the four accused persons required open-ended NBWs from the court. Additional Sessions Judge Siddharth Sharma listed the application for January 5. An "open-ended NBW" does not carry a time limit for execution unlike non-bailable warrants (NBW). The ED had earlier told the court that the accused persons have left the country under suspicious circumstances and evaded the process of law to face criminal prosecution and that they were "shifting countries to escape the clutches of the law." The court had earlier issued NBW against all the four accused which could not be executed. "However, despite efforts made by the ED, the said NBWs could not be served because of the unavailability of the aforesaid concerned persons," the application, moved by advocate A R Aditya, said. The agency added that "the conduct of the four accused persons, and the guidelines of the Interpol requiring issue of a Red Notice against them, it is prayed that open-ended NBWs may kindly be issued by this court against accused persons for facilitation of issue of Red Notice against them by the Interpol." The agency has also attached a number of properties belonging to the accused and a charge sheet was filed against them and others. The agency had earlier moved the court to declare them fugitive economic offenders in the case and for confiscation of properties which are either in their names or they have interest in the properties as beneficial owners. The agency said the total amount involved in money laundering, which "is nothing but proceeds of crime" in the matter has been quantified as Rs 8,100 crore approximately from the investigation conducted so far. The agency had told the court that it was suspected that the accused were residing in Nigeria, United States or United Arab Emirates because they have extensive business interests in these countries. It said the investigation has revealed that 249 companies have been incorporated in the country by promoters of Sterling Biotech out of which 200 firms were found to be 'benami' entities used to siphon off loan funds obtained from various banks. So far, the agency has chargesheeted over 190 accused, including seven individuals and over 180 companies. The companies were: Sterling Biotech Ltd, PMT Machines Ltd, Sterling SEZ and Infra Ltd, Sterling Port Ltd, Sterling Oil Resources Ltd and 179 shell firms. The accused included main promoters of Sterling Group - Sandesaras, Rajbhushan Dixit, Chartered Accountant Hemant Hathi, and middleman Gagan Dhawan. The charge sheet, filed under the various provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 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 said that the accused manipulated figures in the balance sheets of their flagship companies and induced banks to sanction higher loans. PTI UK RCJ

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