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CBI charges Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech over Rs 5300-crore bank loan default

The company is already under investigation for allegedly bribing tax department officials.

business Updated: Oct 28, 2017 20:02 IST
Rajesh Ahuja, New Delhi, Hindustan Times
CBI,Sterling Biotech,Loan default
The FIR has alleged that the total pending dues of the group companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016.

The CBI charged the Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech Limited with defaulting more than Rs 5,300 crore in bank loans, after accusing the pharmaceutical company of bribing three income tax officials.

The company owned by the Sandesara group is facing a multi-agency investigation after the income tax department indicted several taxmen of taking bribes to allegedly overlook incriminating proof after raids on the firm’s offices and property in 2011.

The enforcement directorate (ED) is investigating allegations of hawala transactions by the company.

The CBI filed two first information reports (FIR), one in August and another on October 25.

In the second FIR, the CBI named Sterling Biotech and its directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi and former Andhra Bank director Anup Garg as accused.

The CBI alleged that Sterling Biotech was granted credit facilities from a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank. The FIR said the group companies, including Sterling Biotech, Sterling Oil Resources, Sterling SEZ and Infrastructure and PMT Machines, owed the banks Rs 5,383 crore in 2016.

According to the agency, the company director quoted false statements about its turnover, net profit and tax liablities in the loan applications.

The group’s chartered accountant is also accused of cooking the books.

The agency charged the group with diverting the money from bank loans to entities outside India.

The directors allegedly did insider trading and traded shares of group companies clandestinely.

The company came under scrutiny after the IT department found its own officials ignored evidence from raids, including a diary that allegedly contained payments to public servants and political conduits.

The department then asked the CBI and ED to an investigation under anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 17:11 IST