The Enforcement Directorate has initiated the extradition process for four Sterling Biotech promoters in a Rs 8,100-crore bank fraud case, the agency told a Delhi court on Monday.

The agency sought the court’s certification for the process to extradite Nitin Sandesara, Chetankumar Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Hiteshkumar Patel – all directors of Sterling Biotech.

The Enforcement Directorate told the court that the accused are believed to be in Italy and Nigeria and their extradition was required for the investigation in the case.

In October, the agency had moved court to declare the four accused directors fugitive economic offenders under a new law. The ED has made similar petitions to declare liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamond jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi as fugitive economic offenders.

In December, the Delhi court had issued open-ended non-bailable warrants against the four promoters of the Gujarat pharma firm in the case.

The case

In October 2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation had filed a case against the company for defaulting on loans worth Rs 5,383 crore. The CBI had alleged that the company took the loans from a consortium of banks led by the Andhra Bank and then defaulted on them.

The CBI booked the Sandesaras, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, former director of Andhra Bank Anup Garg and other unidentified people.

In June, the Enforcement Directorate said it had attached the company’s assets worth Rs 4,701 crore.

The Enforcement Directorate also registered a money laundering case against the company and its promoters in October. The agency believes the promoters siphoned off most of the loans the company defaulted on.