The adjudicating authority of the PMLA on Thursday ordered the attachment of assets worth Rs 4,701 crore owned by Gujarat-based Nitin Sandesara and his firm Sterling Biotech Group, saying the assets were proceeds of money laundering.
The central agency had earlier provisionally attached bank accounts, movable and immovable assets of the group and moved the special PMLA Court in Delhi to file a complaint under Section 4 of Fugitive Economic Offenders Act against four persons — Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, Dipti Sandesara and Hitesh Patel. “All the four accused are promoters of Sterling Group and fled the country to avoid criminal investigation,” the ED said in a statement.
The attached assets include immovable property like farmhouses, factory premises and apartments across Gujarat and Mumbai. The agency has also attached plant machinery, around 200 bank accounts of various companies and the group’s promoters, shares worth Rs 6.67 crore, and high-end luxury cars.
The company, owned by the Sandesara family from Vadodara, is alleged to have defaulted on loans amounting to Rs 8,100 crore taken from a consortium of banks. The ED and CBI claim that most of this money has been siphoned off by Sandesaras. ED officials claimed that some of the funds were used to bribe public officials. A top Congress leader’s name has been dragged into the case based on statements of certain witnesses. The Congress leader has denied the allegations
Several companies promoted by the Sandesara brothers, on the basis of false and fabricated documents, had allegedly fraudulently obtained credit facilities of over Rs 8,000 crore from various banks, which subsequently turned into NPAs. The loans were sanctioned by a consortium of banks such as Andhra Bank, UCO Bank, State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Bank of India.