The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has started inspection of NuPower Renewables and five other companies linked to the ICICI Bank controversy, Union Minister P P Chaudhary said on Wednesday. Multiple agencies are probing the alleged lapses involving ICICI Bank’s MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar and her family members. The lender is also carrying out an independent probe into allegations of ‘conflict of interest’ and ‘quid pro quo’ in Kochhar’s dealing with certain borrowers.
Chaudhary said the ministry ordered inspection under Section 206(5) of the Companies Act, 2013 on April 23, 2018, with respect to six companies linked to the ICICI Bank controversy. The inspection is with regard to “six companies, including the company namely NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd and the matter is under progress,” he told PTI in an interview.
The minister of state for corporate affairs also said the Regional Director (Western Region) under the ministry is carrying out the inspection. Section 206 provides powers to call for information, inspect books and conduct inquiries. According to Section 206 (5), the central government may, if it is satisfied that the circumstances so warrant, direct inspection of books and papers of a company by an inspector appointed by it for the purpose.
Last week, a senior ministry official had said that affairs of ICICI Bank are not being looked into by the ministry as that is completely under the purview of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). There are allegations of involvement of Kochhar and her family members in a loan provided to Videocon Group on a quid pro quo basis. It was alleged that Videocon pumped money into NuPower Renewables, a firm owned by Deepak Kochhar, husband of Chanda Kochhar.
The RBI, CBI and Sebi are also looking into the matter. Besides, the controversy has come under the scanner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as ICICI Bank is listed in the US also. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has already issued show-cause notices to ICICI Bank and Kochhar as part of its probe.
The cases under scanner include the bank’s Rs 3,250 crore loan to Videocon Group in 2012 and the involvement of Kochhar family members in the restructuring of the loan. Last week, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said the law would take its own course in the alleged case of nepotism at ICICI Bank, even though it is a “good bank” with “very robust processes” and there was no cause for concern for any of the stakeholders of the lender per se.