Bank fraud case: 4 Sterling directors declared fugitive economic offenders

ED, represented by special prosecutor Nitesh Rana, had moved the plea seeking declaration of the accused as fugitive economic offenders and for confiscation of their property

A Delhi court on Monday declared four directors of Sterling Biotech (SBL) — a Gujarat-based pharma firm — ‘fugitive economic offenders’ in a Rs 8,100-crore bank fraud case.


Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana passed the order on a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).


“I have no hesitation in observing that this court is satisfied that the petitioner has successfully pleaded and proved that the respondents herein are fugitive economic offenders. It is hereby declared that accused Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Jayantilal Sandesra, and Hiteshkumar Narendrabhai Patel are fugitive economic offenders,” the judge said.


Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the ED, had told the court that the accused had fled from the country and were evading the process of law to face criminal prosecution.


The agency, also represented by special prosecutor Nitesh Rana, had moved the plea seeking declaration of the accused as fugitive economic offenders and for confiscation of their property.


The prosecutor, however, told the court during the argument that they wanted to confine their prayer only to the extent that the accused be declared fugitive economic offenders.


In its order, the judge said that the ED may reapproach the court for initiation of confiscation proceedings.


The charge sheet, filed under various provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, accused the company of taking loans from a consortium led by Andhra Bank that had turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans.


According to the ED, the accused manipulated figures in the balance sheets of their flagship companies, and induced banks to sanction higher loans. 


It also said that the investigation revealed 249 companies had been incorporated in the country by promoters of Sterling Biotech, of which 200 were found to be ‘benami’ entities used to siphon off loan funds obtained from various banks.


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