Days after the CBI started a preliminary enquiry against Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar, and Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot in connection with a loan granted to Videocon, look out circulars have been issued against them.
A look out circular ensures that Immigration detains and informs the agencies concerned if a person under investigation attempts to leave the country. In this case, however, sources said Immigration will merely inform the agencies concerned — CBI and Income Tax — since the probe is at a preliminary stage and no FIR has been registered.
Government sources said the look out circular against Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot are to ensure that they do not leave the country before the CBI completes its preliminary enquiry. On Thursday, the CBI questioned Rajiv Kochhar, brother-in-law of Chanda Kochhar, after he was stopped at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai while he was about to board a flight to Singapore. He was questioned Friday too.
The Kochhar brothers are being examined by the CBI in connection with the Rs 3,250-crore bank loan granted by ICICI to Videocon Group in 2012. The agency is probing alleged quid pro quo in the loan granted to Videocon by ICICI Bank whose CEO and MD is Chanda Kochhar.
As first reported on March 29 by The Indian Express, Videocon promoter Venugopal Dhoot formed a joint venture with Deepak Kochhar, loaned him Rs 64 crore before he transferred ownership of the lending entity to him for just Rs 9 lakh. This transfer happened six months after the Videocon Group got a loan from ICICI Bank. Almost 86 per cent of that loan (Rs 2,810 crore) remained unpaid and the Videocon account was declared an NPA in 2017.
Sources said Kochhar was questioned on his firm Avista Advisory. As reported by The Indian Express on April 3, the company got the mandate to restructure foreign currency-denominated debt deals worth over $1.7 billion of seven companies over the last six years. All these companies were borrowers of ICICI Bank at the same time. In at least one of these deals, ICICI Bank was the lead bank of the lenders.
According to disclosures made by Avista Advisory, the company acted as an advisor in restructuring debt of Jaiprakash Associates, Jaiprakash Power Ventures, GTL Infrastructure, Suzlon, JSL and Videocon Group. Avista mentions two loan-restructuring deals involving the Videocon Group on its website, worth $194 million and $97 million in 2015 and 2016 respectively.