Having received information that Nitin Sandesara, key accused in the Rs 5,000-crore Sterling Biotech case, has left the UAE where he had been detained recently, Indian agencies are now separately writing to various countries to locate him.
Just like PNB scam accused Nirav Modi, Sandesara and his family members are learnt to be criss-crossing the globe even though their passports having been revoked.
The CBI has now got in touch with Interpol in Nigeria to locate him and his family, while the ED is writing to seven countries asking them to keep watch on the Sandesaras’ movement.
The Indian Express had on September 23 reported that Sandesara, who was reported to have been detained in the UAE last month, had left the Gulf country and that his location could be anywhere between the UK and Nigeria.
The Sterling Biotech case is part of the CBI probe against its own officer, Rakesh Asthana.
CBI sources said on Tuesday that the agency has asked Interpol office in Nigeria if it has any information on the Sandesaras and to intimate their location to the CBI if they are in the African country.
The ED in its communication to seven countries — including the UK, UAE, Hong Kong, Nigeria and Mauritius — has reminded them that the passports of Sandesara, his brother Chetan Sandesara, Chetan’s wife Deepti Sandesara and one Hiteshbhai Patel have been revoked and that they are likely to either already be in or visit their countries.
In all these countries the Sandesaras have incorporated their companies and hold bank accounts, the ED has said, adding that these companies were used by the Sandesaras to launder money taken from a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank.
It has also said that concerned agencies must keep a watch on their financial transactions through bank accounts held by them as they were used to launder money.
According to the CBI and ED, the Sandesaras have massive operations in Nigeria, Mauritius and the UAE. They run three big companies and hold multiple bank accounts there.
In Nigeria, the Sterling Group runs Sterling Explorations and Energy Production, while in UAE and Mauritius they have the Sterling Global Oil dealing with oil exploration.
In Nigeria alone, sources said, the Sandesaras have around 10 accounts in various banks.
On August 15, Indian agencies learnt that Sandesara had been detained by UAE authorities. Both the CBI and ED had immediately written to the UAE apprising it of the cases against him and requesting his provisional arrest. However, the information now received by the agencies is that he is no more in the Gulf country.
Agency sources said they had no information on why the UAE did not honour the requests.
Sandesara and his brother Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, both directors in the Vadodara-based Sterling Biotech pharmaceutical firm, are key accused in the case.
It is alleged that the company took loans of Rs 5,383 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank, which later turned into non-performing assets. The case is also believed to involve politicians and bureaucrats. The Sandesara brothers have been absconding since the case was registered by the CBI in October 2017. The ED is probing a case of money-laundering against the company and the Sandesaras.