Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s close aide and accused in Rs. 5,000 crore Sterling Biotech fraud case held in Dubai

Nitin Sandesara, an absconding director of a Gujarat based pharmaceutical company ‘Sterling Biotech’ and a close aide of Congress leader Ahmed Patel has been arrested by the Dubai police. As confirmed by an official to Economic Times, the legal process post the arrest is taking place in Dubai and the Indian agencies will try to get him deported.

Sandesera was arrested by the Dubai police based on a non-bailable arrest warrant issued by an Indian court. His company has been under the scanner as it had taken a loan worth Rs. 5,000 crores from a consortium of banks including Andhra Bank, but the loan has turned into a non-performing asset (NPA).

The Enforcement Directorate, which is investigating the matter, had written to the foreign ministry in March seeking revocation of passports of the fugitive businessmen Nitin and Chetan Sandesara, who fled the country with family members last year before the CBI could register a case against them. According to senior ED officials, the Sandesara group allegedly cheated several banks and its total outstanding against banks and investors may go beyond Rs 10,000 crore.

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Sandesara brothers first came under the radar of investigating agencies in 2011 after the income tax department searched their house in Vadodara and recovered a diary with details of payoffs to high profile politician (Congress Leader Ahmed Patel) and their relatives. Later, based on the diary entries, cases against three I-T officers at the level of commissioners and principal commissioners were registered.

As the Enforcement Directorate tightened its investigation, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s association in this case resurfaced. Earlier this month, ED produced a man named Ranjit Malik, alias Jonny, before the duty magistrate of a Delhi court, who granted his custody to the agency for a day, for allegedly sending Rs 25 lakh cash to the official residence of a senior Congress leader, Ahmed Patel.

Earlier too, Sunil Yadav, employed by the Sandesara group, had alleged the involvement of senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, his son, Faisal Patel, and his son-in-law, Irfan Siddiqui in the same, through his written statement to the directorate.

The ED had earlier arrested three persons, including Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan, former director of Andhra Bank, Anup Garg and Sterling Biotech director, Rajbhushan Dixit in this case.

The arrest of the Nitin Sandesara is being seen as a key breakthrough in this case, as his arrest may lead the ED to further confirm the extent of involvement of the Congress leader and his associates in the fraud case.

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