A Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan was today sent to 7-day custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a Rs 5,000 crore money laundering case by a Delhi court which said a "huge amount of public money was syphoned off".
Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Pandey said the custodial interrogation of the accused, arrested yesterday, was required to facilitate the further investigation.
"Considering that huge amount of public money was allegedly syphoned off and in order to facilitate further investigation, custody of seven days' is awarded," the judge said.
Advocate Nitesh Rana, appearing for the ED, sought 14-day custodial interrogation of the accused, alleging he had facilitated the directors of a private firm, Sterling Biotech Ltd. (SBL), for purchase of several properties and helped in misusing and diverting the credit facilities of several bank loans totalling Rs 5,000 crore.
"Rs 1.5 crore was received by the accused (Dhawan) from SBL group. Prior to that, the amount of bank loans was rotated in various group companies of SBL group," he said.
The agency told the court that Dhawan's custody was required to confront him with incriminating documents for ascertaining the money trail as proceeds of crime, to identify properties, his role along with other co-accused including SBL directors Nitin and Chetan Sandesara.
ED informed the court that Sandesara brothers were absconding and Chetan was likely to have left the country.
"Warrants have been issued against various other accused and the proceedings to issue non-bailable warrants against some are in the process," ED said.
The defence, however, opposed the remand application, saying the arrest was illegal as he has always cooperated in the investigation.
Dhawan was arrested in an alleged bank fraud case involving the Gujarat-based pharma firm SBL under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Dhawan was on the radar of the agency for allegedly aiding bank loan frauds related to Sterling Biotech, the Vadodara-based company and few other similar alleged illegal transactions, the ED claimed.
The firm and Dhawan are also beingprobed by the ED for allegedly bribing senior income tax department officials as part of an earlier criminal complaint.
The agency had carried out searches against Dhawan and a former Congress MLA in Delhi in August.
The CBI had recently booked Sterling Biotech, its Directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, Chartered Accountant Hemant Hathi, former Director Andhra Bank Anup Garg and other unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud case.
The CBI has alleged that the company had taken loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which have turned into non-performing assets.
The FIR has alleged that the total pending dues of the group companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016.
The ED had taken a cognisance of this FIR to file a money laundering case against them.