The murky and criminal case of Sterling Biotech, a so called pharma company, which is not just a huge NPA account, but is a declared fraud case by the authorities, is getting more and more dubious. Its promoters, the infamous Sandesaras, have openly cheated banks to the tune of about Rs. 9000 crores and have transferred the money abroad, where they have set up a big business empire, with a huge asset base and a flourishing business. Through the means of hawala and money laundering, they have set up companies at BVI, Leichtenstein, Dubai, China and Seychelles, with overseas assets consisting of oil fields, oil rigs and infrastructure related to oil logistics and transportation. They have looted Indian banks and have scooted away to Nigeria and Europe, with known whereabouts. Its promoters, are declared economic offenders/fugitives, whose extradition is being sought by the Enforcement Directorate, on charges of having committed a massive fraud and yet the official machinery seems to blatantly favour them.
The Sterling Biotech fraud is a creation of the system. It took huge loans from banks through shell companies, non existent entities and through bogus financial statements. It could not have taken place without the involvement of all agencies and authorities. During an income tax raid conducted on the company a few years ago, incriminating evidence of the involvement of top babus, bankers and netas was found, and it was found to be involved in large scale money laundering, and yet no action was initiated to stop its illegal activities.
After the Sandesaras ran away to Nigeria/Europe in June last year, obviously with the blessings of the authorities, criminal cases have been filed against them by India’s top criminal investigation agencies viz. SFIO, CBI and the ED, their assets have been seized and extradition proceedings have been initiated to bring them back to India. The shocking part is that despite being proclaimed fraudsters and criminals and the case being a giant banking fraud, yet the bankers have accepted the one time settlement offer of the Sandesaras, to repay and amicably settle the dues of banks, with a haircut/write off of 66%. Instead of criminal prosecution and harsh coercive recovery measures, their dues are being willingly settled by banks, at a huge loss. That’s not just a huge financial favour to these fraudsters who have a thriving billion dollar overseas empire, but it also gets them off the hook. With banking dues settled by banks amicably, notwithstanding the fact that they are declared fraudsters, they will no longer be fugitive economic offenders, or fraudsters since their dues with banks are settled and all the criminal cases filed against them will wither away or even be withdrawn by the agencies.
The question is that if the Sandesaras are being given such privileged treatment, despite being declared fraudsters, then why are such settlements being denied to the Ruias of Essar Steel, who are willing the repay every rupee of the Rs.54000 crores they owe to the banks, without any haircut or to the Singhals of Bhushan Power, who too are willing to repay the entire Rs.48000 crores to banks, without any write off or haircut, and incidentally neither Essar Steel, nor Bhushan Power, is a fraud account unlike Sterling Biotech. For that matter, why is Vijay Mallya’s various offers to repay the loans of KFA being rejected, who too is keen to pay his dues and start afresh in life. The bankers need to answer, as to why are they giving such a privileged favourable treatment to such fraudsters.
Strange are the ways of Indian bankers whose negligence, corruption and incompetence has cursed India with a NPA crisis of over Rs.12 lac crores, which we are still struggling to sort out and now they dubiously let fraudsters go off the hook and that too by settling their dues with huge hair cuts. These very bankers did not settle dues of many bonafide defaulters, taking them to courts and filing all sorts of cases, due to which even those companies that could be revived, closed down. But with declared fraudsters, they seem to give a red carpet welcome to their settlement proposals, to absolve them of all liabilities.
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