The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said that it has attached moveable and immoveable properties of Sterling Biotech totalling Rs 9778 crores under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,2002 (PMLA).
The case pertains to cheating and bank fraud caused by Sterling Biotech Ltd (SBL)/Sandesara Group and its main promoters Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, and Deepti Sandesara along with others, ED said .
The attached properties include 4 Oil Rigs and Oil field namely OML 143 Located in Nigeria which are held by Sterling Energy Exploration Pvt Co Ltd (SEEPCO) Nigeria, Ships namely Tulja Bhawani, Varinda, Bhavya, Brahmani etc which are registered in Panama and held in the name of company Atlantic Blue Water Services: Aircraft 200 Gulfstream registered in USA held by SAIB LLC and residential flat in London. All these companies are controlled by SBL.
“This attachment is in addition to the attachment of assets worth Rs 4730 crore made by the ED in 2018 which stands confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority under PMLA, in the case registered by the Directorate after CBI had registered an FIR in October 2017 for cheating and bank fraud to the tune of Rs. 5383 Crores against the said company and its promoters,” ED said.
The SBL Group had obtained both Indian currency and Foreign currency Loans from Indian Banks and lenders. The loans were sanctioned by consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank, UCO Bank, State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Bank of India.
ED found during investigation that the loan funds were diverted for non-mandated purposes, layered and laundered through a web of multiple domestic as well as offshore entities. The main promoters have not only siphoned off loan funds to finance their Nigerian Oil Business but also for their personal purposes.
Investigations also revealed that the group was engaged in round tripping of Standby Letters of Credit (SBLCs) funds to the tune of Rs 4500 crores by violating the conditions laid by RBI while sanctioning the loan.
The ED Investigation also revealed that the promoters used their employees’ names and incorporated 249 domestic and 96 offshore shell companies. They have incorporated 96 Entities in various countries including UAE, USA, UK, BVI, Mauritius, Barbados, Panama, and Nigeria. The main entities outside India include Richmond Overseas, Sunshine Trust Corporation, SEEPCO BVI, SEEPCO Nigeria, Atlantic Blue Water Services Pvt Ltd. Geodynamic Geospectra Limited, SAIB LLC, Goldcoin Construction etc.
ED said that further investigation in the matter is in process.