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#AnotherNiravModi: Sterling director accused of Rs.5,000cr scam hiding in Nigeria

Shiladitya Ray

#AnotherNiravModi: Sterling director accused of Rs.5,000cr scam hiding in Nigeria

24 Sep 2018: #AnotherNiravModi: Sterling director accused of Rs.5,000cr scam hiding in Nigeria

After reports surfaced last month that Nitin Sandesara, the absconding director of Sterling Biotech, had been arrested in Dubai over an alleged Rs. 5,000cr scam, it now appears that Sandesara and his family might have fled to Nigeria.

If the suspicion is true, India might have difficulty bringing Sandesara to justice since it doesn't have an extradition treaty with Nigeria.

Here are the details.

Details: Nitin Sandesara was never arrested in Dubai

In mid-August, it was reported that Sandesara had been detained in Dubai and that negotiations were on to get him deported to India.

However, now, ToI reports that sources in investigative agencies say that Nitin Sandesara, his brother Chetan, and sister-in-law Diptiben are hiding in Nigeria.

It's not known whether they flew to Nigeria on Indian passports or other passports.

Scam: Details about the Rs. 5,000cr scam

Earlier, in an FIR, the CBI had alleged that Sterling Biotech took loans of over Rs. 5,000cr from a consortium led by Andhra Bank, and turned the same into non-performing assets.

As of December 2016, Sterling Biotech and other companies under the Sterling Group had total pending dues of Rs. 5,383cr.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had taken cognizance of the FIR.

Modus operandi: How the Sandesaras allegedly diverted loans

The CBI alleged that the Sandesaras had set up over 300 shell and benami companies in India and offshore locations.

These companies were used to divert loans.

The Sandesaras would control these firms through dummy directors, and would engage in balance sheet manipulation, inflating turnover, and insider shares trading to divert loans and obtain further loans from banks.

Fact: The CBI had booked several people for the alleged fraud

The CBI had booked Sterling Biotech, its directors Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, Diptiben Sandesara, Rajbhushan Dixit, and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, former director Andhra Bank Anup Garg and some unidentified people in connection with the alleged bank fraud case.

Arrests: Three arrests have been made by the ED so far

Subsequently, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a case of criminal money laundering against Sterling Biotech and the accused in October 2017, and arrested several people, including Andhra Bank director Anup Garg and Sterling Biotech director Rajbhushan Dixit.

In June this year, the ED also arrested Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan, and attached assets worth Rs. 4,701cr from Sterling Biotech.