After losing Gujarat and Himachal, newly-elected Congress president faces another setback. His mother Sonia Gandhi's most trusted lieutenant Ahmed Patel and his family are under the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) scanner in relation to a money laundering case.
Ahmed Patel's son-in-law, Irfan Siddiqui had allegedly accepted cash from Gujarat-based Sandesara Group's owner. This company is being probed in a Rs. 5,000cr loan case.
Why is Ahmed Patel under ED scanner?
What is the case against the Sandesara Group?
The CBI has charged the Sandesara group-owned Sterling Biotech Limited with defaulting on loans over Rs. 5,000cr taken from public sector banks. Further, the group floated about 200 benami companies, indulging in "suspicious and complex" transactions.
In this case, Ahmed's close aide Sanjeev Mahajan, Sandesara Group's owner Chetan Sandesara, Chetan's associate Gagan Dhawan and employee Sunil Yadav among others are being investigated.
How is Ahmed Patel connected to the group?
In a written statement, Yadav alleged that Sandesara frequently visited Ahmed Patel's residence (23 Mother Crescent, Delhi). Purportedly, they used code-names for the Patels. Their residence was described as "Headquarters 23," Irfan as J2 and Ahmed's son, Faisal Patel as J1.
Investigation was based on a diary maintained by Sandesara group's employee, which mentioned payments to "Irfan bhai," who Yadav claimed was Irfan Siddiqui.
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Apparently, Faisal Patel partied on Sandesara Group's money
Irfan was often given "huge amounts of cash" to the tune of Rs. 15-25L. Also, Sandesara's Delhi property was allegedly occupied by Irfan.
Further, Yadav's statement says that "Faisal Patel had visited G6 Pushpanjali farms to party with friends." The expenses (Rs. 10L) were looked after by Sandesara.
Also, Sandesara often ensured that Faisal got free entry to Hype, nightclub in Delhi's Shangri-La Hotel.
If guilty, can Ahmed Patel be nabbed?
As Yadav's statement has been recorded under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, it is considered part of judicial proceeding. Further, it is also admissible as evidence in the court of law. Thus, if found guilty, Ahmed Patel and his kin would surely be cornered.
What do these developments mean for Congress?
Reportedly, Congress functionaries insist that Yadav's statement was taken under coercion, and this is "vendetta politics to malign Patel's family."
But, these allegations don't reflect well on Congress. Investigations against Patels might dent Congress's support, especially as they are considered close to the Gandhis.
So, how will the consummate "political fixer" Ahmed Patel get out of this mess? We'll have to wait and watch.
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