Just a month after reports indicated that Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech owner Nitin Sandesara had been detained in the UAE, it has come to light that the businessman, wanted in a Rs 5,300 crore fraud, may have fled to Nigeria.
Top sources in the agency told the publication that Sandesara, along with his family members including brother Chetan Sandesara and sister-in-law Diptiben Sandesara may have taken refuge in the African country.
“There were reports that Nitin Sandesara was detained by UAE authorities in Dubai in the second week of August. The information was incorrect. He was never detained in Dubai. He and other family members probably left for Nigeria much before that,” an official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Sandesara’s other family members, including brother Chetan Sandesara and sister-in-law Diptiben Sandesara are also believed to be escaped to Nigeria.
In June, the Enforcement Directorate has attached Rs 4,701 crore worth of assets of Gujarat-based pharmaceutical company Sterling Biotech Group in connection with a Rs 5,000 crore bank fraud money laundering case.
The agency issued a provisional freezing order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and attached immovable properties of around 4,000 acres, plant and machinery, around 200 bank accounts of various linked companies and promoters, shares worth Rs. 6.67 crore and a number of luxury cars of the Vadodara-based group, officials said.
This was one of the ED’s biggest attachment of assets under the stringent PMLA this year.
The probe agencies had alleged that the firm and its absconding promoters, on the basis of false and fabricated documents, had fraudulently obtained credit facilities of more than Rs 5,000 crore from various banks, which subsequently turned into NPAs.
“The loans were sanctioned by a consortium of banks like the Andhra Bank, UCO Bank, State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Bank of India.
“Till date, the banks have declared as fraud, various outstanding loan accounts to the tune of about Rs 5,000 crore in respect of various companies of Sterling Group including Sterling Biotech Ltd, Sterling Port Ltd, PMT Machines Ltd., Sterling SEZ and Infrastructure Ltd and Sterling Oil Resources Ltd,” the ED said.