In one of its biggest property attachments, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached more than Rs.4700 crores ($702 million) worth of assets of Congress-leader-Ahmed-Patel-blessed firm Sterling Biotech and its holding firm Sandesara Group for cheating the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Banks of more than Rs.5000 crores ($746 million). After the fugitive Nirav Modi’s attachment of Rs.5700 crore ($851 mmillion) assets, this politically linked firm’s attachment by ED is considered as the second largest attachment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The first First Information Report (FIR) of CBI details the role of Ahmed Patel’s son-in-law Irfan Siddiqui for bribing the accused Income Tax officers on behalf of these firms.
Already two cases each have been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED. The first one is the payoff to the many Government officers by Gujarat based Sterling and Sandesara Group. The first First Information Report (FIR) of CBI details the role of Ahmed Patel’s son-in-law Irfan Siddiqui for bribing the accused Income Tax officers on behalf of these firms.
“Information further revealed that the said Diary contained an entry for a cash deposit of Rs.75,00,000 ($) in the name of Dr. Subhash Chandra Income Tax on 25.02.2011 is found duly incorporated in the daily consolidated summary, seized from Vadodara by search Party No: 17. The receipt of Rs. 75,00,000/- from Dr. Subhash Chandra IT and a further sum of Rs. 1,00,00,000 from another person Mr. Irfan Bhai in cash which is also mentioned and added to total receipts.
“Further, payment of Rs.1,75,00,000 is also shown in the entries under “Vadodara” as “SHOKEEN PROP” (Delhi Farm House). Similar entries are mentioned in Dairy 2011. A sum of Rs. 30,00,000 is shown as cash received on 02.04.2011 from Dr. Subhash Chandra IT by Mr. Gagan Dhawan and the same is given to Mr. Shokeen (Shokeen Properties P Ltd) by Mr. Gagan Dhawan,” says the CBI FIR Irfan Siddiqui known as Irfan Bhai is married to Mumtaz Patel, daughter of Ahmed Patel. Gagan Dhawan based in Delhi is known for his proximity with Ahmed Patel. In the Rs.4700 crore worth attachments, the properties of Gagan Dhawan is also attached by ED.
CBI’s tainted Special Director Rakesh Asthana was also caught for his links with Sandesara Group and Sterling Biotech. His name also figured in the Sterling Diaries of 2011, where three Income Tax Commissioners were accused. Those days Asthana was Surat Police Commissioner. CBI Director Alok Verma objected to his promotion as Special Director due to his links with Sterling Group, which is under the probe by the CBI in two sensitive cases. As per the case filed by noted lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, the Sterling Diaries shows that Asthana received more than Rs.3 crores from the controversial firm linked to Ahmed Patel.
However the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Government and Supreme Court did not take note of the CBI Director’s protest on Asthana’s promotion. Why they did not take note of CBI Director’s protest is a million dollar question. It was interesting that Congress also not protested on Asthana’s promotion. This was clearly due to Rakesh Asthana’s proximity with Ahmed Patel. It is a known secret that many clever Gujarat cadre IAS and IPS officers are equally close with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and also at the same time close with Ahmed Patel, who was controlling the system till May 2014. Actually, these clever officers were fooling politicians by putting their legs in two boats.
“The attached assets include immovable properties of around 4,000 Acres in total, plant machinery, around 200 bank accounts of various companies and accounts of promoters, shares worth Rs. 6.67 Crores and various high-end luxury cars. During the course of the ongoing money laundering investigations, Non-Bailable Warrants were issued by the Special PMLA Court, New Delhi, against several persons, including the promoters of Sterling Biotech Ltd., Sh. Nitin Sandesara and Sh. Chetan Sandesara. The Sandesaras had set up more than 300 shell and benami companies in India and abroad, which were used to divert and mis-utilize loan funds. The modus operandi of money laundering involved the formation of shell/ benami companies, manipulating balance sheets, inflating turnovers, insider shares trading, etc. These shell and benami companies were controlled by the Sandesaras through dummy directors, who were/ are employees of the various companies of Sterling Group. Bogus sale/purchase was shown between the benami companies and the Sterling group of companies in order to divert loan funds and inflate turnovers to obtain further loans from banks. Bogus sale/purchase was also shown between the benami companies and the Sterling group of companies in order to divert loan funds and inflate turnovers to obtain further loans from banks. The loan funds were rotated in multiple layers through the various shell and benami companies to conceal the source of such funds,” said the press release issued by the Enforcement Directorate on Friday.
“The siphoned off loan funds were used to buy properties in the names of various companies, to purchase shares of Sterling Biotech Ltd and Sterling International Enterprises Ltd to attract market fancy and project a healthy picture of the companies, to purchase many luxury cars including Porsche, Range Rover, Audi, Mercedes, BMW etc, to withdraw cash of about Rs. 140 Crores from bank accounts of various shell/benami companies( such as Dipraj trading Ltd., Embio Trading Ltd., Gatsby Trading Ltd., Newport Enterprise Ltd., Raj Bones Ltd.), which was used for various personal purposes such as the purchase of jewelry. Some of the diverted loan funds were also paid to public servants. The ED is also investigating this aspect of the case. ED is further investigating various cross-border transactions undertaken by the group. The Sandesaras are into the oil business and own several rigs, barges, and oilfields across Nigeria. Apart from this, they have several business concerns in Mauritius, UAE, British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, and the USA, among other countries. More than 50 foreign bank accounts and several other assets and properties situated abroad, related to the Sterling Group, are also under the scanner of the ED,” said the press release.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 66.99 Rupees.
 CBI FIR names son-in-law of Ahmed Patel (Irfan) of bribing Income Tax officials – Sep 25, 2017, PGurus.com
 Government to face wrath of Supreme Court on Promotion of Asthana as CBI Special Director? Oct 24, 2017, PGurus.com
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