4 December 2018

Sandesaras, promoters of the Sterling Biotech Group, fled to Nigeria after defrauding the banks for more than $1.2bn. They would apply for loans from banks on the basis of manipulated figures. They created more than 300 shell and benami companies in India and abroad which were used to show inflated turnover by circular invoicing within these group of companies. Operating addresses of these companies were vacant or non-existing buildings. Yet none of the banks and auditors verified these. Banks extended purely on the inflated financials produced by the companies. Such blatant frauds are possible because the entire system is corrupt and was bribed. In an income tax raid conducted on the Sterling Biotech Group a few years ago, incriminating evidence was found of huge bribe payoffs to top ranking bureaucrats. Yet the Sandesaras were able to flee the country without let or hindrance because of the system that is corrupt from top to bottom.

India does not have an extradition treaty or a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Nigeria and bringing them back from the African country would be difficult. HWNews reported.

The Enforcement Directorate listed the group’s assets: four oil drilling rigs in the Niger delta, oil evacuation and transportation assets valued at about $172 million and seismic survey equipment worth $98 million, four oil blocks in the Niger delta region. The group also owns 2.7 acres in Prince George County, Virginia, in the US in the name of Danny Patel, brother-in-law of Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, managing director of Sterling Biotech.

The group had more than 70 offshore companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, Liechtenstein, Seychelles, Dubai and China. Economic Times reported.

The Enforcement Directorate has filed a supplementary charge sheet against Asthana in the Sterling Biotech case.  This supplementary charge sheet is related to the original 15 October case of criminal conspiracy and corruption filed by CBI against him. Asthana is the second in command of the CBI, who is on compulsory leave now.

Manoj Prasad was arrested by the CBI on October 16 for allegedly asking Rs 5 crore from Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana. On Sana’s complaint a FIR was lodged against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana. According to Sana, Manoj Prasad was operating on behalf of Asthana and had promised that CBI would go soft on him if he pays up a bribe of Rs 5 crore. India Today reported.

Manoj claimed that he had met Nitin Sandesara  (in the picture) of Sterling Biotech in London. Nitin and his brother Chetan Sandesara are the main accused in the Sterling Biotech Case involving huge money trail to Congress leader Ahmed Patel and his son and son-in-law. Rakesh Asthana also  accepted a bribe of Rs.3.9 crores from this tainted business firm in 2011 alone. Pgurus.com reported.

Prasad and Sana are crooks. We have to take what they say with a pinch of salt.

The fraud also shows a weakness in the supervision of banking sector by the Reserve Bank of India. In countries like Hong Kong and Singapore such frauds are avoided by strict banking supervision.