This Article is From Jul 09, 2020

"152 Questions": Ahmed Patel Wishes Probe Agency Grilled All Similarly

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged money laundering and Rs 14,500-crore bank fraud case involving the Sandesara brothers.

Ahmed Patel has served as political secretary to UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

New Delhi:

Congress leader Ahmed Patel was questioned for the fourth time today by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over his alleged links with the Sandesara brothers, the promoters of Sterling Biotech, who are being investigated over allegations of a Rs 14,500-crore bank loan fraud.

Ahmed Patel, a Rajya Sabha member and one of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's key advisers, was questioned in three separate sessions earlier in June.

"My friends from the ED visited me today. In the last four days, I have been asked 152 questions. I don't think there's anything else left to ask. I have given them every single detail, but I wish they would also question other people in the same manner... then we'd know that it's a balanced investigation; let the law take its own course," the Gujarat MP said, adding that someone who has not done any wrong should not fear.

The 70-year-old, who has accused the government of "using probe agencies every time it faced a crisis or when there was an election", was allowed questioning at home after he refused to visit the probe agency's office citing prevailing COVID-19 rules that discourage senior citizens from going out.

According to sources in the Enforcement Directorate, an employee of the Sandesara brothers had claimed that he handed money to Mr Patel's son-in-law Irfan Siddiqui at the Congress veteran's residence.

The agency had questioned Mr Siddiqui and Mr Patel's son Faisal and recorded their statements last year.

The case involves a Rs 14,500 crore bank loan fraud allegedly by Sterling Biotech and its main promoters and directors - Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetankumar Jayantilal Sandesara and Deepti Sandesara - all of whom are missing.

Nitin and Chetankumar are brothers.

Investigators allege this is a bigger bank scam in volume than the Rs 13,400 crore Punjab National Bank fraud involving jewelers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.

The Sandesaras are also facing separate inquiries by the CBI and the Income Tax Department for their alleged nexus with high-profile politicians and charges of corruption and tax evasion.

The brothers fled India in 2017 and are stated to be based in Albania, from where India is trying to extradite them.

The ED registered a criminal case in connection with the alleged bank loan fraud on the basis of an FIR and a charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

(With inputs from Agencies)