Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was grilled for almost 10 hours by a team of Enforcement Directorate at his Delhi residence on Tuesday in connection with Rs 14,500 crore Sterling-Biotech bank fraud case.
On the second day of questioning, according to sources, Ahmed Patel was confronted with the statements given by the witnesses and suspects in the case. Patel was questioned for eight hours by a three-member team of the probe agency on Saturday. The ED will again question him on Thursday at his residence.
India Today has learned that Patel was asked about his alleged relationship with absconding accused Chetan Sandesara and Nitin Sandesara.
After the questioning, Ahmed Patel targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah and said “Today, once again people of our most important Gujarati friends visited me and asked questions. I answered all the questions. However, they are asking questions very slowly, almost with a speed of a narrow gauge. Maybe they want to tell their boss that we have interrogated Ahmed Patel for hours.”
On Saturday, Ahmed Patel had alleged that the government is targeting him and other opposition leaders to divert attention from its failure to manage an economic, health and national security crisis. “Rather than fighting the pandemic and China, this government is keener to fight the Opposition. Nonetheless, our conscience is clear. We have nothing to hide, nor are we afraid to criticise & expose the government’s failures ?and their past corruption,” he had said.
Today, the probe agency recorded the statement of the veteran Congress leader under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
India Today has learned that during investigation in the case, a key witness had disclosed the connection between Chetan Sandesara, Ahmed Patel, his son Faisal Patel and son-in-law Irfan Siddiqui.
Sunil Yadav, an employee of the Sandesara group, had alleged in his statement that Irfan Siddiqui used to visit Chetan Sandesara (Director Sandesara Group) at Pushpanjali Farms in New Delhi, while Chetan Sandesara would also visit Irfan’s Vasant Vihar residence.
Chetan allegedly used to handover huge amounts of cash to Irfan Siddiqui. Sunil alleged that Ahmed Patel’s residence was also used for meetings.
“Chetan Sandesara used to refer to Ahmed Patel’s residence (23, Mother Teresa Crescent Road) as headquarters. Chetan and Gagan Dhawan used to visit Ahmed Patel’s residence. They have gone to this address at least 25-30 times. The meetings were fixed by Chetan and Gagan Dhawan through Mahajan (PA of Ahmed Patel) over the phone,” Sunil allegedly said in his statement.
“Faisal Patel used to take his friends to Puspanjali Farms to party and all the expenses were borne by Chetan. In 2011, during one such party, Chetan spent around Rs 10 lakh.” added his statement.
The ED is also probing allegations that Siddiqui “occupied” a residential property in Delhi’s Vasant Vihar that was purchased by the Sandesaras.
The Enforcement Directorate has already questioned Irfan Siddiqui, son-in-law of Ahmed Patel, in connection with multi-thousand-crore bank fraud and money-laundering probe against Gujarat-based pharmaceutical firm Sterling Biotech.
Ahmed Patel’s son Faisal Patel was also questioned by the ED earlier in the same case.
Ahmed Patel is a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress from Gujarat and holds the post of treasurer in the grand old party. He was earlier the political secretary to UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The alleged Rs 14,500 crore bank loan fraud is said to have been perpetrated by the Vadodara-based pharma firm and its main promoters — Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara and Deepti Sandesara — all of whom are absconding.