Mumbai: Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd has filed an insolvency petition against Sterling SEZ & Infrastructure and Sterling International Enterprises before the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

The non-banking financial company said the two companies, part of the Sandesara group, are in default for over 297 crore.

On 10 June, flagship firm Sterling Biotech was admitted by the NCLT Mumbai bench under the corporate insolvency debt resolution process (CIRP) for defaulting on more than 5,400 crore.

“Sterling SEZ was a borrower where the group’s another subsidiary, Sterling International Enterprises, had provided the corporate guarantee for the financing," argued Gaurav Mathur, a partner at law firm Singhi & Co., representing Srei Infrastructure Finance in the case. “The company has defaulted on two loan facilities given by us," he added. Counsel for Srei Infrastructure Finance said the company had sent several notices regarding the case but so far, no one had replied and neither had any lawyer appeared to represent the company in the tribunal.

Pulak Bagchi, group head for legal, regulatory and policy of Srei Infrastructure Finance, declined to comment as the matter is under the consideration of the court. Emailed queries to Sterling SEZ and Sterling International were not answered till press time.

A bench comprising Bhaskara Pantula Mohan and V. Nallasenapathy adjourned the case to 2 July.

On 11 June, the Mumbai bench of NCLT admitted the insolvency petition filed by lead lender Andhra Bank against Mumbai-based Sterling Biotech.

The pharmaceutical firm owes around 5,400 crore to various lenders.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is investigating charges of fraud made by Andhra Bank against the company. The lender has alleged that Sterling had taken loans of over 5,000 crore from various lenders in a fraudulent manner, which later became non-performing loans.

In January 2018, the ED had arrested former executive director of Andhra Bank Anup Prakash Garg for violations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Presenting Garg in court, the agency had said it had come across “certain entries" in a diary seized by the income tax department in 2011 which showed various cash payments amounting to 1.52 crore made to one “Mr Garg, director, Andhra Bank" by the Sandesara brothers between 2008 and 2009.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had booked Garg, directors Chetan Jayantilal Sandesara, Nitin Jayantilal Sandesara, Dipti Chetan Sandesara and Vilas Joshi, chartered accountant Hemant Hathi and some unidentified people in connection with the case.

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