Sandesara brothers, wanted in India, doing flourishing business in Nigeria

Wednesday 07th June 2023 06:26 EDT

The Sandesara brothers who were wanted in India for “one of the biggest economic scams in the country”, have established one of the largest independent oil company in Nigeria. The selection of the firm owned by the brothers' family, who India has designated as fugitives, to dig wells for the project is merely the most recent illustration of how Nigeria has served as the brothers' safe haven, effectively shielding them from problems back home. Modi government has accused the tycoons of absconding after defrauding public banks of more than $1.7 billion. Nigeria has refused India’s request to extradite them.

The Sandesara brothers, two Gujarati businessmen who left India in 2017, claim they were victims of political persecution but deny defrauding their lenders. The brothers entered the Nigerian oil sector about 20 years ago when they were awarded two onshore licences in the delta, but due to issues in India, they have turned their attention to Lagos. They even applied for Nigerian citizenship, according to CBI which is probing the fraud case.

According to a letter released by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, the African country declined to arrest them four years ago on the grounds that the Indian accusations "appeared to be political in nature."

In India, the brothers’ private jet, swanky cars and star-studded parties at a 60,000-square-feet farmhouse in Ampad village in Gujarat, routinely provided fodder for tabloids and social media sites, according to news outlet. From a sanctuary on Lagos’s upscale Victoria Island, one of their Nigerian companies has continued that glitzy tradition, sponsoring annual Diwali celebrations that are the talk of the city’s small Indian community, even flying in Bollywood singers.

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