On Friday, The Enforcement Directorate said it has seized assets worth over Rs 8 crore belonging the son-in-law of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel, actors Dino Morea and Sanjay Khan, and Aqeel Abdulkhalil Bachooali, who is publically known as DJ Aqeel, in connection with its money laundering probe into the Rs 16,000 crore Sterling Biotech loan fraud case.

The case details

The ED said the attachments which are seized included eight immovable properties, three vehicles, and several bank accounts, shares and mutual funds—all of which have a cumulative value of Rs. 8.79 crore.

The ED case is based on an FIR registered by CBI against Sterling Biotech, owned by fugitive brothers Nitin and Chetan Sandesara, for cheating several public sector banks, like Nirav Modi.

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The agency released a statement that-

“These attached assets belong to Sanjay Khan (Rs 3 crore), Dino Morea (Rs 1.40 crore), Aqeel Abdulkhalil Bachooali (Rs. 1.98 crore) and Irfan Ahmed Siddiqui (R 2.41 crore). Four separate provisional attachment orders under section 5 of PMLA have been issued in this regard.”

Further adding, the released statement by ED said that-

“Investigation by ED revealed that Sandesaras have diverted Proceeds of Crime of Rs 3 crore, Rs 1.4 crore, Rs 12.54 crore & Rs 3.51 crore to Sanjay Khan, Dino Morea, Aqeel Bachooali and Irfan Ahmed Siddiqui respectively. Earlier, ED had attached movable/immovable properties to the tune of Rs 14,513 crore vide 08 Provisional attachment orders in relation to this case. With this attachment, the total attachment in this case reached to Rs 14,521.80 crore. Total Proceeds of Crime in this case is more than Rs 16,000 Crore.”

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What has been done till now?

Till now, one prosecution complaint along with four supplementary complaints has been filed in this case and four arrests have been made by ED. Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Hitesh Patel has been declared fugitives by a Special Court.

Patel’s previous connection with the fraud case

In June last year, ED had questioned Patel in connection with the case. Patel was questioned about his connection details with the Sandesaras based on the statement of a witness who has claimed that he arranged parties for Patel’s son on instructions from the Sandesaras who paid for it all.

Sandesaras are currently hiding in Albania where they have now taken citizenship. Indian authorities are trying to get them brought back to India. In 2019, ED had questioned Patel’s son Faisal and his son-in-law Irfan Siddiqui. The duo had also been questioned on the same lines and asked about their alleged connection with the witness and promoters of Sterling.

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What the witness had to say?

Sunil Yadav who is an employee of the Sandesara Group, has told the agency that he took over “expenses of Rs 10 lakh” for a party which was attended by Faisal, and was a complimentary arranged entry in a night club for him and once delivered Rs 5 lakh to his driver in Khan Market on the instructions of Chetan Sandesara, one of the promoters of the Vadodara-based pharma firm.

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Patel’s statement on the case

At the time while he was getting investigated, Ahmed Patel had told reporters-

“Friends of Narendra Modi & Amit Shah came to my house. I replied to all questions that were asked. I feel sorry for these officials that they are being used to divert attention, at a time when China has taken our land and instead of getting our land back, they are going after opposition leaders.”

Patel had also said after government had failed to tackle COVID-19, it was going after Opposition leaders. According to him all this was being done to hide and obfuscate the government’s incompetence in tackling China and COVID-19.

He also said that-

“I believe in law and the Constitution. Whatever investigation according to law they want to carry out, they should carry out only as per the law. If I have done something wrong, they should act and the law should take it on their own course.”