Private sector lender ICICI Bank Friday said that it has not asked the MD and CEO of the bank Chanda Kochhar to go on leave till it conducts an independent enquiry into a new complaint received from an anonymous whistle blower. The complaint alleges non-adherence of code of conduct, conflict of interest and quid pro quo by the bank’s CEO Chanda Kochhar while dealing “with certain borrowers” of the bank.
The bank said Kochhar was on her annual leave which was planned in advance. ICICI Bank also denied appointing a search committee to find Kochhar’s successor.
“The ICICI Bank Board denies having asked Ms. Chanda Kochhar to go on leave. She is on her annual leave which was planned in advance. Further, the Board denies that it has appointed any search committee to find her successor.”
The new probe comes soon after the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) issued a notice to the bank and Kochhar on May 24 for alleged non-compliance of the listing agreement in the Videocon case which relates to dealings involving the Videocon group and NuPower Renewables, an entity in which Deepak Kochhar, spouse of the bank’s MD and CEO, has economic interests. The Sebi notice was issued based on information furnished by the bank/its MD and CEO to diverse queries made by Sebi concerning dealings between the bank and Videocon group and certain dealings allegedly between Videocon Group and NuPower. The fact that the case is under adjudication implies that prima facie Sebi has found violation of disclosure norms.
As first reported by The Indian Express on March 29, Videocon group promoter Venugopal Dhoot provided crores of rupees to NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL), 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. He transferred proprietorship of the company to a trust owned by Deepak Kochhar for Rs 9 lakh, six months after he received the loan from ICICI Bank. Almost 86 per cent of the Rs 3,250 crore loan (Rs 2,810 crore) remained unpaid. The Videocon account was declared an NPA or a bad loan in 2017.