23 March 2019: A Delhi court has allowed the Enforcement Directorate to send letters rogatory to 21 countries, involving the UK and the UAE, seeking assistance in the probe of a Rs 8,100 crore bank fraud case involving Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech Ltd.
Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora granted permission to the agency on its plea seeking nod to send the LRs, also known as letter of request, to countries, also involving the U.S., China, Panama and Austria.
The LRs will also be send to Albania, where the court recently allowed the ED to send extradition requests, after its special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana informed that its two directors — Nitin Sandesara and Chetankumar Sandesara — have obtained the citizenship.
Another director of the firm, Hitesh Narender Bhai Patel, was detained in Albania’s capital Tirana on March 20 on the basis of an Interpol notice issued against him by the ED.
The application moved by ED’s advocate AR Aditya also sought to send the LRs in some other countries which included Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Comoros, Jersey, Lichtenstein, Mauritius, Nigeria and Seychelles.
It is alleged that the company took loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank, which had turned into non-performing assets. The total volume of the alleged loan defraud is pegged at Rs 8,100 crore. The ED registered its case based on Central Bureau of Investigation charge sheet and is probing money laundering.
The accused are also being probed by the ED for allegedly bribing senior Income Tax department officials as part of an earlier criminal complaint. The agency has filed five charge sheets in this case till now and attached properties valued at Rs 4,710 crore.