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Court allows ED to go ahead with extradition process against 4 Sterling Biotech promoters

PTI     January 21, 2019

(Eds: Adding details from court order) New Delhi, Jan 21 (PTI) A Delhi court Monday allowed the Enforcement Directorate to go ahead with the process to extradite four Sterling Biotech Ltd (SBL) promoters from Nigeria and Italy in the Rs 8,100 crore bank fraud case. Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora allowed the ED's plea seeking "certification of the extradition process" against Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetankumar Jayantilal Sandesara, Hiteshkumar Narendrabhai Patel and Dipti Chetan Sandesara". The court took on record the submissions made by ED's Special Public Prosecutor Nitesh Rana that "as per the information available with the ED, the four accused are presently in Nigeria/Italy. Though with these countries there is no extradition treaty, still the agency can make an extradition request". Rana further told the court that Non-Bailable Warrants (NBWs) have already been issued against the accused and a charge sheet filed against them. The ED's application had sought certification of "extradition request to the competent court of Federal Republic of Nigeria against accused persons, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetankumar Jayantilal Sandesara, and for certifying the Extradition request to the competent court of Republic of Italy against accused Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara." As per MEA guidelines, for making of an extradition request for an accused or fugitive against whom the charge sheet or the complaint has been filed, an affidavit of the applicant -- containing brief facts and history of the case and of the criminal description of the accused -- has to be sworn before a judicial magistrate or court where the person concerned is to be prosecuted. The court said: "The extradition requests in the form of affidavits of the applicant (ED) have been put up and the same are certified by this court for the purposes of extradition of the four accused..." The agency has registered the alleged bank fraud case against the firm SBL under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The court had earlier this month issued open-ended NBWs against the four promoters of the Gujarat pharma firm in the case. The accused are being probed by the agency also for allegedly bribing senior income tax department officials as part of an earlier criminal complaint. The ED had on December 24, 2018 informed the court that it wanted to approach the Interpol for issuance of Red Corner Notice (RCN) against the SBL's directors. The agency had told the court that the Interpol guidelines for opening RCN against the four accused persons required open-ended NBWs from the court. An "open-ended NBW" does not carry a time limit for execution unlike non-bailable warrants. The ED had earlier told the court that the accused 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 because of the "unavailability of the aforesaid concerned persons". The agency has also attached a number of properties belonging to the accused and a charge sheet was filed against them and others. The ED had told the court that it was suspected that the accused were in Nigeria, the United States or the United Arab Emirates because they have extensive business interests in these countries. PTI UK LLP PKS SA

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