The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday once again questioned Chanda Kochhar, former MD and chief executive of ICICI Bank and Nishant Kanodia chairman of Matix Group under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with the alleged sanctioning of loans to a few customers causing a loss to the bank.
Kanodia’s Mauritius-based firm Firstland Holdings in NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd , a company run by Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar.
The investments from Ruia’s son-in-law’s firm into NuPower started in December 2010. Incidentally, the same month ICICI Bank was lead banker in a consortium of Indian banks that extended a $530-million loan to Essar Steel Minnesota LLC on December 29, 2010. This loan was later classified as non-performing asset (NPA). In 2013, Firstland sold its stake in NuPower to
DH Renewables, another Mauritius-based company for Rs 325 crore without booking any profit or loss.
DH Renewables, a subsidiary of Accion Diversified Strategies Fund based in Cayman Islands.
ICICI Bank and Chanda Kochhar have been under regulatory scrutiny after The Indian Express reported that Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot provided crores of rupees NuPower Renewables, a firm he had set up with Deepak Kochhar and two relatives six months after the Videocon Group got Rs 3,250 crore as loan from ICICI Bank in 2012.
The amount was part of the Rs 40,000-crore loan that Videocon Group secured from a consortium of 20 banks led by SBI. Almost 86 per cent of the Rs 3,250 crore loan (Rs 2,810 crore) remained unpaid. The Videocon account was declared an NPA in 2017.
On January 22, the CBI registered a FIR against Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and a few firms including Nupower Renewables and Videocon Industries for allegedly cheating ICICI Bank of Rs 1,730 crore till March 2012. It also searched the offices of NuPower and Videocon in Mumbai.
The CBI has alleged “the accused (Chanda Kochhar) sanctioned certain loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with other accused to cheat ICICI Bank”. It said Chanda Kochhar “dishonestly” abused her official position to disburse this loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics on September 7, 2008 as the very next day her husband’s firm Nupower Renewables received Rs 64 crore from Videocon Industries to acquire its first power plant.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has also named Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd and unknown public servants as accused in the case.