High Court (India)

August 08, 2019

Delhi High Court Rejects Enforcement Directorate Pleas To Cancel Bail Of Sterling Biotech Money Laundering Accused

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Delhi High Court has dismissed the pleas of the Enforcement Directorate seeking cancellations of bail of two accused in a money laundering case allegedly involving the Gujarat-based pharma company Sterling Biotech Ltd.

Earlier, the ED had challenged two separate trial court orders granting bail to Gagan Dhawan and Ranjit Malik alias ‘Johny’ who are accused in the over Rs 8000-crore money laundering case involving the Gujarat-based company.

The duo were arrested by the ED for allegedly sending Rs 25 lakh to a prominent Delhi-based Congress leader’s residence through one Rakesh Chandra.

The ED had alleged that Dhawan had helped the directors of Sterling purchase several properties as well as faciliatated the misuse and diversion of credit facilities of several banks amounting to more than Rs 8,000 crore.

In its order, the high court stated that parameters for cancellation of bail and grounds for challenging the order of grant of bail on the ground of arbitrary exercise of discretion are altogether different. The court stated that in matters of grant of bail, merits of the case are not required to be gone into in detail.

So far, the agency has chargesheeted 191 accused, including seven individuals and 184 companies.

The court had previously issued open-ended non-bailable warrants against pharma firm's directors, including Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara and his wife Dipti Chetan Sandesara.

The accused included main promoters of Sterling Group -- Sandesaras, Rajbhushan Dixit, Hitesn Patel, Chartered Accountant Hemant Hathi and middleman Gagan Dhawan. The companies include Sterling Biotech Ltd, PMT Machines Ltd, Sterling SEZ and Infra Ltd, Sterling Port Ltd, Sterling Oil Resources Ltd and 179 shell companies.

According to the charge sheet, the accused manipulated figures in the balance sheets of their flagship companies and induced banks to sanction higher loans. After being granted loans, they allegedly diverted the loan funds to non-mandated purposes through a web of shell companies.

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