The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday interrogated Congress leader Ahmed Patel in connection with a money laundering case involving Gujarat-based pharmaceutical company Sterling Biotech group, PTI reported. The company has allegedly defaulted on loans worth Rs 5,300 crore.

A three-member team of the agency visited Patel at his official residence in Delhi to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Patel was recently summoned twice for questioning in the case by the Enforcement Directorate, but the Congress Rajya Sabha MP sipped it citing the government guidelines for the coronavirus, which advise senior citizens to stay indoors.

The Congress leader was accused of allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 25 lakh in cash from Ranjit Malik, a middleman for Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in November 2017 in connection with the Sterling Biotech case. Patel had described the allegations as “baseless”.

The case

On October 28, 2018, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a case against the company for defaulting on loans worth Rs 5,383 crore. The CBI has alleged that the company secured the loans from a consortium of banks led by the Andhra Bank, and these have now turned into non-performing assets.

The CBI has booked Sterling Biotech’s directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi, former director of Andhra Bank Anup Garg and other unidentified people.

The Enforcement Directorate also registered a money laundering case against the company and its promoters Nitin and Chetan Sandesara in October, attaching assets worth Rs 4,701 crore. The agency believes the promoters siphoned off most of the loans the company defaulted on.