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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

ICICI-Videocon case: Chanda & Deepak Kochhar seek more time from Enforcement Directorate

The agency is probing the couple in a case of alleged money laundering and quid-pro-quo in granting loans to Videocon group when Chanda was ICICI Bank chief.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: May 1, 2019 5:24:41 am
ED tracks money trail: Videocon to Chanda Kochhar husband’s firm Sources said the Kochhars cited personal reasons while requesting more time and have now been called for questioning on May 11

Former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak have sought more time from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which had asked them to appear before the agency for questioning on April 30. Sources said the Kochhars cited personal reasons while requesting more time and have now been called for questioning on May 11.

The agency is probing the couple in a case of alleged money laundering and quid-pro-quo in granting loans to Videocon group when Chanda was ICICI Bank chief. Meanwhile, the agency on Tuesday questioned Chanda’s brother-in-law Rajeev Kochhar for the third consecutive day in connection with the case.

Rajeev Kochhar’s company Avista Advisory was an advisor to the Videocon Group on matters of loans when ICICI Bank sanctioned the borrowings.

The ED had registered an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) in the matter based on a CBI FIR of January 22. In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that Chanda Kochhar had “dishonestly” granted loans to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees to the Videocon Group “in contravention of rules and policy … by abusing her official position”.

It has also alleged that Chanda Kochhar, who took an early retirement in October last year in the wake of allegations, had accepted “illegal gratification through her husband” Deepak Kochhar, in whose company Videocon group made investments after it was granted loans by the ICICI Bank.

Apart from Kochhar’s and Dhoot, the FIR has named Deepak Kochhar’s company Nupower Renewables Ltd, Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Ltd (VIL) besides unknown public servants as accused.

The agency has also put under scanner top bankers such as current ICICI Bank CEO Sandeep Bakshi, K Ramkumar, Sanjoy Chatterjee, NS Kannan, Zarin Daruwala, Rajiv Sabharwal, KV Kamath and Homi Khusrokhan in the case for their role in sanctioning of loans to Videocon.

On March 31, 2018, The Indian Express had first reported how in December 2008, Venugopal Dhoot of the Videocon Group set up a company with Deepak Kochhar and two of Chanda Kochhar’s relatives; then gave a Rs 64-crore loan to this company through a fully owned entity before he transferred the latter’s ownership to a trust headed by Deepak Kochhar for just Rs 9 lakh.

The web of transactions was first reported by The Indian Express on March 29, 2018.

In what raised questions of propriety and conflict of interest, the transfer of the company to Deepak Kochhar happened six months after the Videocon Group got a loan of Rs 3,250 crore from ICICI Bank. Almost 86 per cent of that loan (Rs 2,810 crore) remains unpaid and Videocon account was declared an NPA in 2017.

The CBI had begun investigations into the matter in December, 2017 after it initiated a preliminary enquiry.

The enquiry probes allegations that ICICI Bank sanctioned credit facilities of about Rs 3,250 crore to Trend Electronics Ltd, Century Appliances Ltd, Kail Ltd, Value Industries Ltd and Evan Fraser and Co. India Ltd, all companies belonging to the Videocon group, the FIR says.

“The officials of ICICI Bank Ltd sanctioned credit facilities to these companies in violation of Banking Regulation Act, RBI guidelines and credit policy of the bank. It was also alleged that as part of quid pro quo, VN Dhoot made an investment of Rs 64 crore in M/s Nupower Renewables through Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd (SEPL) and also transferred SEPL to Pinnacle Energy Trust managed by Deepak Kochhar through a circuitous route between 2010 to 2012,” the FIR has said.

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