The Delhi High Court today granted bail to a former Andhra Bank director who was arrested in connection with a money laundering probe in an alleged Rs 5,000-crore fraud case. Justice Mukta Gupta granted the relief to Anup Prakash Garg, arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on January 12 in connection with the case involving a Gujarat-based pharma firm. The judge directed Garg not to leave the country without permission from the court concerned. The high court said he will not directly or indirectly influence the witnesses or interfere with the further investigation. Garg has been asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs two lakh and two sureties of the same amount. He had sought bail on the ground that he has been in custody since January and the chargesheet has been filed in the case, so he was not required for further probe.
Advocates Amit Mahajan and Nitesh Rana, appearing for ED, had opposed the bail, saying that considering the gravity of the offence, the nature of allegations and the investigation carried out, Garg should not be granted the relief. ED had contended that the officer had granted a loan of nearly Rs 250 crore to the accused firm Sterling Biotech and accepted Rs 1.52 crore illegal gratification during his tenure. Garg was the second person arrested in the case after the agency in November last year held Delhi-based businessman Gagan Dhawan. Besides Dhawan and Garg, the ED has arrested Rajbhushan Omprakash Dixit, one of the directors of the firm. All three were arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The ED had lodged the money laundering case after taking cognisance of an FIR registered by the CBI.
The high court noted that the CBI is yet to file a chargesheet in the main case and as per the mandate of the provision of the PMLA Act, the trial in the scheduled offence and the complaint filed by the ED is to be conducted jointly. Co-accused Gagan Dhawan has been granted bail by the trial court on the ground that the case is based on documentary evidence and all the bank transactions are recorded which cannot be erased or tampered with by his influence, the high court noted in its order. The CBI had booked Garg, firm Sterling Biotech, its directors Dixit, Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi and a few unidentified persons in connection with the case.
It had alleged that the company took more than Rs 5,000 crore in loan from a consortium led by Andhra Bank, which turned into non-performing assets. The FIR had also alleged that the total pending dues of the group companies were Rs 5,383 crore as on December 31, 2016. It had alleged that "various cash payments were made to Garg, as reflected in the entries, on the instructions of the Sandesara brothers, by withdrawing cash from the bank accounts of several benami companies owned by them".