Owner of Sterling Biotech Nitin Sandesara wanted in Rs 5,000 crore bank fraud, finds safe haven in Nigeria

New Delhi: There is yet another case of a businessman dogged by a case of wilful default fleeing from the clutches of law. The latest name in the gallery of defaulters is that of Nitin Sandesara, owner of Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech, who is wanted by the CBI and the ED in a Rs 5,000 crore bank fraud case.

Initially, there were reports that he was detained in UAE but the buzz now is that he is no longer in Dubai but could have fled to Nigeria. Needless to say that Nigeria does not have a treaty of extradition with India. In a replay of Nirav Modi episode, the family members of Sandesara, including brother Chetan and sister-in-law Diptiben, too, have allegedly scooted. The reports of his detention in Dubai were perhaps part of a deliberate smokescreen that was intended to throw the Indian sleuths off the tracks. Though there is a contrarian opinion that Indian security agencies were unable to secure his custody from the authorities in Dubai.

The speculation about a safe haven in the African continent was fuelled by the discovery that that Sandesara has investments and companies in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. UK is too hot for Indian fugitives, at the moment, and Nigeria may be the favoured destination. The next step in the saga could be trying to coax Interpol into issuing a Red Corner notice against the accused. But such notices have yielded little in the case of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. A part of the problem is that the international hideouts of Sandesara are not well-publicised; nor is it clear on which passport he is travelling.

The case against Sterling Biotech, a pharma company, is that Sandesara had taken a loan of Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank. Again, needless to say the entire amount is as of date a non-performing asset (NPA). The Sandesaras are untraceable since October 2017, when a case was registered by the CBI. Money laundering through shell companies was the usual modus operandi.

Input: Online reports

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