Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was asked around 128 questions over three days of interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Rs 14,500 crore Sterling Biotech bank fraud case.
On Thursday, Patel was grilled for over eight hours, whereas on Tuesday he was interrogated for more than ten hours by a three-member team of the ED at his Delhi residence and for eight hours on Saturday.
During the three days of questioning, Ahmed Patel was grilled for over 26 hours during which he was asked 128 questions related to the money laundering case against Gujrat based Chetan Sandesara and Nitin Sandesara.
After the questioning, Ahmed Patel said, “I have replied to the all the questions I was asked to their satisfaction. They told me that my questioning is over. All the questions were based on the allegations and they do not have any direct evidence against me.“
Targeting the government, Ahmed Patel further said, “It is vendetta and political harassment against me. I don’t know under whose pressure they [ED officials] are working.”
The financial probe agency is recording the statement of Patel over his alleged connections with absconding accused Chetan Sandesara and Nitin Sandesara who are prime accused in a scam bigger than the Punjab National Bank scam involving Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
During the questioning, Ahmed Patel, according to sources, was confronted with the statements given by the witnesses and suspects in the case.
India Today has learned that Patel was asked about his alleged relationship with Chetan Sandesara and Nitin Sandesara and on the allegations that huge amount of cash on multiple occasions were delivered at his Delhi residence by them.
On Saturday, Ahmed Patel had alleged that the government is targeting him and other opposition leaders to divert attention from its failure to manage the 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 said earlier.
The statements of the veteran Congress leader has being recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), officials said.
India Today has learnt 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 Chetan Sandesara allegedly used to handover huge amounts of cash to Ahmed Patel’s son-in-law 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, Delhi) 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.
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, a very close associate of Sonia Gandhi, is a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress from Gujarat and holds the post of treasurer in the grand old party.
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.