EXC: Ex-ICICI boss Chanda Kochhar hid biz interests in Videocon Group

Chanda was an alleged signatory of a company that held shares in another company that borrowed loans & later defaulted on them.

New Delhi | Updated: 29 December, 2022 5:37 pm IST
Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak were arrested by the CBI on Friday, December 23.

Former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar did not disclose her family’s business interests with its clients – Pacific Capital Services Private Limited (PCSPL), Videocon Group and its chief Venugopal Dhoot, according to investigators.

In a chargesheet filed in the ₹3,000-crore Videocon Group loan case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said that the former ace banker “deliberately did not disclose association of herself and her husband Deepak Kochhar with Videocon Group and its chief Venugopal Dhoot.”

Chanda, her husband Deepak and Dhoot were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) a few days back for alleged corruption in the sanction of loans to Videocon Group.

According to its chargesheet filed in November 2020, the ED said that Chanda was an authorised signatory of Pacific Capital Services Private Limited (PCSPL), a shareholder in NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL) – which was a customer of the ICICI Bank. Chanda’s husband Deepak is the director of the NuPower.

As per the RBI rules, Chanda should have disclosed her association with these borrowers but “she did not disclose the same to the ICICI Bank and therefore she was in breach of the bank’s Code of Conduct”, the chargesheet said.

According to the same chargesheet, Justice BN Srikrishna (retired) was appointed as head of enquiry by the ICICI Bank to conduct an independent enquiry into allegations against the then CEO and MD Chanda. In his report, he noticed “non-disclosure on the part of Chanda on various counts and violations caused by her due to non-disclosure”.

However, the financial probe agency also claimed that the ICICI Bank’s Board of Directors, in their meeting on January 30, 2019, noted that there was no conflict of interests and Chanda was not required to make any disclosure.

It further alleged that Chanda did not ‘recuse’ herself from the committees recommending or sanctioning the loan proposals of Videocon Group. A loan of ₹300 crore was sanctioned to Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) by a committee headed by her, the agency said, adding that the loan was sanctioned to VIEL with a condition that Dhoot will take care of her husband’s interests.

“Out of ₹300 crores, ₹64 crores were diverted by VIL for non-mandated purpose and for the benefit of Deepak Kochhar as the amount was transferred to his company Nupower Renewables Private Ltd (NRPL),” the ED claimed.

Chanda, Deepak and Dhoot will remain in judicial custody till January 10, when they will be produced again by the CBI before a special court in Mumbai.

The CBI has named the Kochhars and Dhoot, along with companies Nupower Renewables (NRPL), Supreme Energy Private Limited (SEPL), Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Limited as accused in its FIR registered in 2019 under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) related to criminal conspiracy and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The agency has alleged that ICICI Bank had sanctioned credit facilities to the tune of ₹3,250 crores to companies of the Videocon Group promoted by Dhoot in violation of the Banking Regulation Act, RBI guidelines, and credit policy of the bank.

According to the CBI, a sanctioning committee headed by Chanda Kochhar approved a term loan of ₹300 crores to VIEL in 2009 in contravention of the rules and policies of the bank by abusing her official position as a public servant.

A day after the loan was disbursed, Dhoot transferred ₹64 crores to NRPL from VIEL through SEPL.

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