Justice B N Srikrishna, former judge of the Supreme Court of India will head the enquiry panel that will probe an anonymous whistleblower complaint alleging non-adherence of code of conduct, conflict of interest and quid pro quo by the CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar while dealing “with certain borrowers” of the bank.
According to sources, the enquiry process has begun and the final report may take time as the issue is “complex and contentious”.
On May 30, when the board of ICICI Bank instituted an equiry into a new complaint against Kochhar, it did not specify the time by when the final enquiry report is expected.
The board of the bank has said that the independent enquiry will use forensics, review emails and record the statements of the relevant personnel. “The enquiry would also cover all connected matters in the course of the investigation to bring the matter to a final close,” said the bank in a filing to the exchange. However, the bank did not provide details about the “borrowers”.
The bank board announced its decision to conduct an independent enquiry 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.