NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s son-in-law has come under the Enforcement Directorate (ED) scanner for allegedly accepting cash from the owner of the Gujarat-based Sandesara Group, which is being probed for tax evasion, defaulting on bank loans and money laundering.
Sunil Yadav, an employee of the group, made the claims in a deposition before the ED, a copy of which has been accessed by The New Indian Express. ED officials said Yadav’s statement is admissible in court as proceedings under Section 50 (2) of Prevention of Money Laundering Act are deemed to be judicial proceedings.
According to the deposition of Yadav, who was a director in a Sandesara Group company, owner Chetan Sandesara and Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan used to visit the home of Patel’s son-in-law with bagsful of cash. Dhawan was recently arrested in the case.
Yadav has claimed that he accompanied the duo on four or five such occasions and that the bag, emptied of cash, was handed to him each time after the transaction. He alleged that the amount was generally between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 25 lakh. He claimed the cash was variously arranged from an Old Delhi office and was sometimes brought by Sandesara from Vadodara to Delhi.
Several phone calls and a text message to Patel went unanswered. In his deposition, Yadav also claimed he delivered cash to Patel’s son through his driver at Khan Market here. Yadav alleged that on multiple occasions he had delivered cash to Dhawan, ranging between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 20 lakh. Last month, Dhawan was arrested by the ED for helping the Sandesara group with bank loan frauds.
The CBI has charged the Sandesara group-owned Sterling Biotech Limited with defaulting on loans to the tune of over Rs 5,000 crore from public sector banks. According to the CBI FIR, the group’s companies owed the banks Rs 5,383 crore in 2016.
Yadav has alleged to the ED that Sandesara’s Delhi farmhouse was frequented by bank officials—apparently from Punjab National Bank, Uco Bank, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank—whenever he was in town.
Income Tax officials had earlier alleged that Sterling Biotech incorporated more than 100 undisclosed offshore entities, trusts, foundations and companies in tax havens like British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Liechtenstein and other countries.
They had claimed that the group floated around 200 benami companies through the entire shareholding in two of its listed companies, Sterling Biotech Limited and Sterling International Enterprises Limited.