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The Supreme Court today sent Delhi-based businessman to two-day custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a Rs 5,000 crore money laundering case. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud allowed the ED to quiz Gagan Dhawan till November 15 after the agency said the investigation was not complete. Advocate Nitesh Rana, appearing for ED, told the court that the agency had recently received certain documents from banks and the accused was required to be confronted with them. A Delhi court had on November 9 sent Dhawan to the 14-day judicial custody while rejecting the ED's plea seeking his custody for five more days to interrogate him. A petition was filed before Delhi High Court against the trial court order which had on November 10 dismissed the ED's plea seeking further custody. The accused, however, had opposed the application saying that the ED had already got enough time to interrogate him. The agency had alleged that Dhawan had facilitated the directors of a private firm, Sterling Biotech Ltd (SBL), for purchase of several properties and helped in misusing and diverting the credit facilities of several bank loans totalling Rs 5,000 crore. "Rs 1.5 crore was received by the accused (Dhawan) from SBL group.
Prior to that, the amount of bank loans was rotated in various group companies of SBL group," he had said. ED had informed the court that the proceedings to issue non-bailable warrants against two other co-accused persons, SBL directors Nitin and Chetan Sandesara, was in the process. It had also told the court that Chetan was likely to have left the country. Dhawan was arrested in an alleged bank fraud case involving the Gujarat-based pharma firm SBL under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The CBI had recently booked Sterling Biotech, its Directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, Chartered Accountant Hemant Hathi, former Director Andhra Bank Anup Garg and other unidentified persons in connection with the alleged bank fraud case. The CBI has alleged that the company had taken loans of over Rs 5,000 crore from a consortium led by Andhra Bank which have turned into non-performing assets. The FIR has alleged that the total pending dues of the group companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016. The ED had taken a cognisance of this FIR to file a money laundering case against them.
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