The income-tax (I-T) department has filed a case Sterling Biotech Ltd and its promoters Nitin Sandesara and Chetan Sandesara, under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act 2015, say reports. The Sandesara family, on the run from over $700 million in fraud and money laundering charges in India, is being protected by Albania and Nigeria.
As reported by Moneylife
, the four politically powerful promoters of the Sterling Biotech group (Nitin Sandesara, Chetankumar Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Hiteshkumar Patel) have been absconding from India after running up over Rs15,600 crore of bad loans. They continue to manipulate the judicial system, string banks along and, now, have come up with a proposal to delay their one-time settlement (OTS) of Rs2,638 crore to December 2021. (Read: Exclusive: Fugitive Sandesara of Sterling Biotech Dictates Terms to Indian Public Sector Banks)
A report from The Indian Express says
, on 6 September 2021, the tax authority filed a case in a local court against Sterling Biotech and the Sandesaras, under Sections 50 and 56 of the Black Money Act.
Earlier in June this year, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) banned directors of Sterling Biotech from accessing the securities market in a matter about fraudulent issuance of global depositories receipts (GDR) by the company.
A report from OCCRP.org says that high-ranking officials from Albania and Nigeria helped the Sandesaras evade repeated attempts to extradite them to India to face fraud charges during the same month. “Sandesara family members were swiftly granted citizenship in Albania after pledging to invest over $33 million in construction projects with their local partner — investments which are now being investigated for money laundering,” it says. (Read: How the Sandesara Family of Sterling Biotech Evaded Justice: Report
“Judges in Albania and Nigeria, where the Sandesaras also have citizenship, have rebuffed India’s attempts to extradite them, arguing that the charges against them are politically motivated,” the report says.
Documents obtained by OCCRP show that Indian state companies continued to buy hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of oil sourced from the Sandesaras’ Nigerian company after the family went on the run.
According to the report, brandishing fresh Albanian passports, they had been awarded by President Ilir Meta, three members of the family — Chetankumar Sandesara, his wife Diptiben, and his older brother Nitin — boarded their jet at about 5:00pm in March 2019 from Albania’s Tirana International Airport and only Diptiben’s brother Hiteshkumar Patel, who was travelling on an Indian passport, was held back, although Interpol ‘red notices’ had been issued for all four travellers.
The Sterling group is under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), enforcement directorate (ED) and the serious frauds investigation office (SFIO) for fraud and money laundering.
Earlier in April, whistle-blower Captain Sukhpal Singh pointed out that while the Sandesaras have been declared fugitives by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in September 2020, Indian Oil Corp Ltd (IOC) is importing oil from Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Company Ltd (SEEPCO) from Nigeria, a group company of the Sandesaras. (Read: Fugitive Sandesaras of Sterling Biotech Continue To Do Business with Indian Oil PSUs
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