Enforcement Directorate Questions Ahmed Patel Over Money Laundering Case

A three-member team of the Enforcement Directorate visited Ahmed Patel at his residence in central Delhi to record his statement

Sandesara Brothers case: Congress leader Ahmed Patel questioned by Enforcement Directore (File)

New Delhi:

The Enforcement Directorate questioned senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel on Saturday in connection with a multi-crore money laundering case involving Gujarat-based firm Sterling Biotech and the main promoters of the Sterling Group - the Sandesara brothers.

A three-member team of the agency visited Mr Patel at his residence in central Delhi to record his statement under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act). The team left his house after over eight hours of questioning.

He will be questioned again on June 30.

"Modi ji aur Amit Shah ji ke mehmaan aaye the (Modi ji and Amit Shah ji's guests had come)... They came, asked me questions, I replied and they left," Mr Patel said in evening, news agency ANI reported.

Mr Patel, 70, had previously been summoned for questioning twice by the agency but cited the lockdown and the COVID-19 outbreak guidelines that asks senior citizens to stay indoors; the virus is believed to be particularly dangerous to those above 65 years of age.

The case pertains to a probe against Chetan and Nitin Sandesara, and a few others, over alleged multi-crore bank fraud by Sterling Biotech.

"If you were to do an analysis, you will see a clear pattern over the past many years. Every time there is Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha election or the government is facing a crisis, one or more investigative agencies become active  on the instructions of one individual," Mr Patel said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, this time the Modi government's failure to manage an economic, health and national security crisis is now so huge, that none of the agencies can help spin the narrative," he said, adding, "Rather than fighting the pandemic and China, this government is more keen to fight the opposition. Nonetheless, our conscience is clear. We have nothing to hide, nor are we afraid to criticise and expose the government's failure and their past corruption."

The original charge-sheet, filed after a complaint made by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and under the various provisions of PMLA, accused the company of taking loans from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which had turned into non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans.

The charge sheet said the accused manipulated figures in the balance sheets of their flagship companies and induced banks to sanction higher loans.

In 2018 the agency told the court that the main accused, including the Sandesara brothers, may have fled the country to avoid criminal prosecution.

It also told the court that it suspected the accused could be residing in Nigeria because they had extensive business interests there.

With input from agencies