BJP govt purchasing goods, services from ‘fugitives’ who ran away from India with public money: Cong

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The Congress on Monday alleged that the BJP government was purchasing goods and services from “fugitives” who have fled the country with public money.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, at a press conference, alleged that the BJP government was first aiding fugitives escape from the country and then was buying goods from their companies. He cited the example of Sandesara brothers of Sterling Biotech.

There were no comments from the government over the charges.

Vallabh alleged that those declared ‘fugitive economic offenders’, after they duped banks, ran away with public money and were relaxing in foreign locations, are now selling goods and services from these locations to the government.

He alleged that crude oil worth Rs 5,701.83 crore was purchased by oil PSUs from Sandesara group company even after a special court in September 2020 declared Nitin Sandesara, Chetan Sandesara, his wife Dipti and one Hiteshkumar Narendrabhai Patel as ‘fugitive economic offenders’ on the Enforcement Directorate’s request.

He said the promoters of Baroda-based Sterling Biotech fled India just before the CBI and the ED registered cases against them in 2017 for allegedly siphoning off loans of government banks worth Rs 15,000 crore.

The Congress leader alleged that from January 1, 2018 to May 31, 2020, shipments worth Rs 5,701.83 crore of OKWUIBOME Crude Oil were received from Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Ltd (SEEPCO), Nigeria by our oil PSUs.

SEEPCO has been producing OKWUIBOME Crude Oil And PSUs like Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) have been actively purchasing oil from (SEEPCO) Nigeria, he said.

Vallabh also alleged the recent Pandora papers have revealed that Sandesara brothers formed six offshore firms to increase oil trade to India. All of these companies were formed between November 2017 and April 2018, and none of them have been investigated by central agencies like the ED and the CBI.

“These points clearly indicate that the central government, PSBs and central agencies like the CBI and the ED have not only been going soft on the Sandesara brothers but also helping them escape law and contributing to their wealth and fortunes by repeatedly indulging in business with them,” he alleged.

“The Congress party asks from the Modi government why there have been no attempts to extradite the Sandesara brothers? Do banks and central agencies treat other loan defaulters and economic offenders in the same manner,” Vallabh asked.

He also questioned whether the Modi government even considers the Sandesara brothers as fugitive economic offenders, and why oil PSUs were repeatedly engaging in business with the economic offenders.

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