New Delhi: It seems the ED is spreading the dragnet for another top Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is known for his proximity to the Gandhis. The basis of the probe is a startling allegation contained in a remand copy of a person arrested by the directorate in the Sterling Biotech case. The allegation, in turn, stems from an under-oath statement of a ‘cash courier’ that he delivered Rs 25 lakh at an address that, as per the Rajya Sabha website, is the residence of Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s key adviser.
Patel’s office told NDTV the charges are “baseless just like the charges against him in the Augusta VIP Chopper case.” The Sterling Biotech case relates to the promoters of the group and others who fraudulently availed of credit worth Rs 5,000 crore sanctioned by a consortium of banks. These loans were later declared bad debt. IT raids in 2011 had led to a diary which allegedly showed a list of payoffs and that has become the basis of the Enforcement Directorate’s case. The Directorate’s officials have told the court that they not only had a witness statement but also “telephonic chats and financial transactions” in the case. When NDTV asked if the ED would be questioning Ahmed Patel soon, its officials refused to comment. The ED had questioned and recently charge sheeted top Congress leader P Chidambaram in the Aircel Maxis case.