Fugitive businessman Hitesh Patel, an accused in the Rs 8,100 crore bank loan fraud, detained in Albania

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New Delhi–Fugitive businessman Hitesh Narender Bhai Patel, an accused in the Rs 8,100 crore alleged bank loan fraud by the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech group, has been detained in Albania and is expected to be extradited to India soon, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Friday.

Patel, wanted by the ED, was detained by law enforcement officials of Albania in the capital city of Tirana on Wednesday on the basis of a red corner notice (RCN) issued against him by the Interpol on March 11 following requests from the Indian authorities, an ED statement said.

Patel is an accused in a Rs 5,000 crore money laundering case — as part of the Rs 8,100 crore bank loan fraud allegedly perpetrated by the Sterling Biotech Group — in which the ED had filed a chargesheet in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court.

Patel is the brother-in-law of Gujarat-based businessmen Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara and Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, known as the Sandesara brothers, who along with their pharmaceutical company Sterling Biotech Group have been accused of taking Rs 8,100 crore loans from the domestic and offshore branches of Indian banks between 2004 and 2012.

Patel was instrumental in getting dummy directors from shell companies who were used by the Sandesaras for routing, rotating and laundering the money, said the ED statement, adding that he also handled and managed illicit cash transactions for the Sandesaras.

“Patel also acted as director in many companies and siphoned loan funds for the purchase of luxury cars. He never joined the investigation and fled the country. A special court has issued non-bailable warrant against him,” the statement said.

The ED said that Patel, the Sandesara brothers and their relative Dipti Sandesara are the accused in the case. The Sandesara brothers are also stated to be in Albania and on March 19, a Delhi court had allowed the ED to send extradition requests to that country against the two.

All the four accused are promoters of the Sterling group and have fled the country to avoid criminal investigation and prosecution.

The ED said that the accused have incorporated more than 100 entities in various countries, including the UAE, the US, the UK, British Virgin Island, Mauritius, Barbados and Nigeria. Their main entities outside India include Richmond Overseas, Sunshine Trust Corp, SEEPCO BVI, SEEPCO Nigeria and Atlantic Blue Water Services. (IANS)

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