Gujarat pharma tycoon flees after 5k cr fraud

Gujarat pharma tycoon flees after 5k cr fraud
Highlights

Nitin Sandesara, the prime accused behind a Rs 5000crore bank fraud and money laundering case, seems to have given the Indian authorities a slip once again The owner of Gujaratbased Sterling Biotech, who had reportedly been arrested in Dubai last month, is no longer in the UAE

Hyderabad: Nitin Sandesara, the prime accused behind a Rs 5000-crore bank fraud and money laundering case, seems to have given the Indian authorities a slip once again. The owner of Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech, who had reportedly been arrested in Dubai last month, is no longer in the UAE.

Media reports said that Sandesara and his family members, including brother Chetan Sandesara and sister-in-law Diptiben Sandesara, are believed to be hiding in Nigeria. They added that India has not signed any extradition treaty or a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Nigeria, so bringing them back home would be difficult.

"There were reports that Nitin Sandesara was detained by UAE authorities in Dubai in the second week of August. It was incorrect information. He was never detained in Dubai. He and other family members probably left for Nigeria much before that," an officer told a leading daily. It is not known if the Sandesaras travelled to Nigeria on Indian passports or that of some other country.

Nonetheless, in a clear attempt to cover all bases, the investigation agencies are reportedly planning to send a request to UAE authorities asking them to "provisionally arrest" the Sandesaras if they are seen there. Meanwhile, efforts are on to get Interpol red corner notices issued against the accused.

The ED had registered a money laundering case against Sterling Biotech and its promoters, the Sandesara brothers, last October, taking cognisance of a CBI FIR on charges of alleged corruption.

The family has been absconding ever since. In addition, the investigative agencies booked the Vadodara-based pharmaceutical firm's directors including Dipti, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, former Andhra Bank director Anup Garg and some unidentified persons for cheating banks of Rs 5,000 crore.

The probe agencies have alleged that the accused, on the "basis of false and fabricated" documents, had fraudulently obtained credit facilities from various banks, which subsequently turned into non-performing assets (NPAs).

"The loans were sanctioned by a consortium of banks like the Andhra Bank, the UCO Bank, the State Bank of India, the Allahabad Bank and the Bank of India," said the ED, adding, "Till date, the banks have declared as fraud, various outstanding loan accounts in respect of various companies of Sterling Group including Sterling Biotech Ltd, Sterling Port Ltd.

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