NCLT reserves order on Srei Infra’s plea against Sterling units

NCLT reserves order on Srei Infra’s plea against Sterling units

Srei, a Kolkata-based non-banking financial company, said the two firms, part of the Sandesara group, are in default for more than Rs297 crore.

Srei, a Kolkata-based non-banking financial company, said the two firms, part of the Sandesara group, are in default for more than Rs297 crore.

Mumbai: The Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has reserved its order in an insolvency plea filed by Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd (SIFL) against Sterling SEZ & Infrastructure and Sterling International Enterprises, subsidiaries of Sterling Biotech, a firm that is also admitted for the resolution process. Srei has suggested the name of Vishal Jain as interim resolution professional (IRP) to the tribunal.

Srei, a Kolkata-based non-banking financial company, said the two firms, part of the Sandesara group, are in default for more than ₹297 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 in the case.

According to Srei, it has sent around five notices to the companies regarding the case but the firms have not replied nor has any lawyer appeared to represent the Sterling subsidiaries in the tribunal.

After hearing the submissions of the Srei counsel, a division bench comprising Bhaskara Pantula Mohan and V. Nallasenapathy reserved its order in the matter.

If these companies get admitted for the resolution process, it will put all the firms owned by the Sandesara family under the bankruptcy process. Earlier, 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.

Email queries to Sterling SEZ and Sterling International remained unanswered till the time of filing the report. Pulak Bagchi, group head for legal, regulatory and policy of Srei declined to comment on the development citing the subjudice nature of the dispute.

According to a BSE filing, promoters hold around 34.33% in the Sterling International Enterprises. In the flagship company Sterling Biotech, the promoters own merely 28.56%.

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 more than Rs5,000 crore from various lenders in a fraudulent manner, which later became non-performing loans.

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

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