Another top Congress leader may soon be heading to the Enforcement Directorate headquarters in the national capital.
The centre’s lead financial crimes probe agency today told a Delhi court that it had evidence of Rs 25 lakh, suspected to be bribe, delivered to the residence of Ahmed Patel, the top aide of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The agency shared the information on Friday when it was trying to persuade the court to give them 15 days custody of a man, Ranjit Malik. He had been arrested in the money laundering case linked to a CBI case against Sterling Biotech, a pharmaceutical firm in Gujarat that got a Rs 5,000 crore loan on forged.
As part of the argument, probe agency ED said they had recorded the statement of a man called Rakesh Chandra who says he had acted as a cash courier for Ranjit Malik. He also spoke about delivering 25 lakhs cash to 23, Mother Teresa Crescent Road.
This is the official residence of Ahmed Patel who is also a Rajya Sabha MP.
ED officials told the court that they not only had the witness statement but also “telephonic chats and financial transactions” to back up its charges in the case.
This isn’t the first time that the ED has linked Ahmed Patel’s family to the money laundering case. It had earlier alleged the Congress’s Rajya Sabha member’s son Faisal Patel and his son-in-law also played a role in this case.
Tax raids at the pharma firm’s premises back in June 2011 had led to a diary which allegedly showed a list of payoffs to politicians, tax officials and a senior police officer.
Last year, the CBI finally registered a case against top income tax officers named in this diary.
Another case was also filed against company officials for fudging the company’s financial documents to convince a consortium of banks led by Andhra Bank to give the company a Rs 5,000 crore loan around 2008-09.
The government says three of the firm’s directors, Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, fled the country in 2017. In June this year, however, the Enforcement Directorate said it had seized company assets worth Rs 4,700 crore.
Mr Patel’s office told NDTV the allegations are “baseless just like the charges against him in the Augusta VIP Chopper case.”
The controversial deal to buy 12 choppers for VVIPs and the alleged bribes paid in clinching it had triggered a political storm. In 2016, there were allegations that Ahmed Patel and then Congress president may have a role in the deal. Last month, the lawyer of middleman Christian Michel claimed that the NDA government had offered to let him off the hook if he implicates the former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel in the case.
When NDTV asked if they would be questioning Ahmed Patel soon, ED officials refused to comment.
Before Mr Patel, the Enforcement directorate has already questioned and charge-sheeted P Chidambaram in Aircel Maxis case.