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ED to summon Bollywood actor Dino Morea, DJ Aqeel in Sterling Biotech case

Saurabh Kumar
Earlier, the ED had summoned DJ Aqeel and actor Dino Morea but the duo have sought time to appear.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will soon summon Bollywood personalities in connection with the Sterling Biotech case as the agency has found that huge amounts were paid to them for performing at events organised by Sandesaras, promoters of the firm.

Earlier, the ED had summoned DJ Aqeel and actor Dino Morea but the duo have sought time to appear.

The agency suspects that money could have been routed abroad through these Bollywood personalities, according to a source who did not reveal any name. "People from Bollywood used to participate in a lot of cultural events of the Sandesaras. These people have been disproportionately paid and we need to find out the reason. It may be the case that money were diverted overseas through these payments," said the source.

The source added that payments have also been made to political figures and the agency is trying to ascertain the nature of the deals.

The ED on June 27 attached properties worth Rs 9,778 crore of Sterling Biotech and related to the promoters Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, and Deepti Sandesara who are absconding and have left the country. The agency is also looking for Hitesh Patel, brother of Nitin and Chetan. An extradition process has been initiated against these accused.

The Sandesaras have defrauded Indian banks to the tune of Rs 14,500 crore, higher than the `11,400-crore scam committed by diamond merchant Nirav Modi on Punjab National Bank.

A case was registered by the ED against Sterling Biotech and its promoters after the Central Bureau of Investigation lodged an FIR in October 2017 for defrauding banks of Rs 5,383 crore. During the course of investigation, it was found that another Rs 9,000 crore was borrowed by the Sandesaras from foreign branches of Indian banks.

The banks which have extended loans include Andhra Bank, UCO Bank, State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Bank of India. The Sandesaras are suspected to have used shell companies to divert and launder money abroad and have invested in their oil business in Nigeria, among others.