The ICICI Bank Tuesday said one of India’s top law firms recently withdrew its investigative report of 2016 that had given its former MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar a clean chit. While the bank did not name the law firm, sources confirmed that the board of ICICI Bank had engaged Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas to investigate allegations of nepotism made by a whistleblower pertaining to loans extended by the bank to the Videocon Group.
“There was a media report in 2016 which alleged nepotism and conflict of interest on the part of Chanda Kochhar, the then MD & CEO of ICICI Bank, while sanctioning loans to a corporate group,” the bank said in a stock exchange filing.
Watch Video: Chanda Kochhar’s conflict of interest
“When further media reports surfaced in March 2018 on the same matter, the board of directors, inter alia, basis the inquiry report of the law firm, issued a statement expressing confidence in Kochhar,” it said. “The law firm submitted its report in December 2016 stating that it had found no evidence of nepotism and conflict of interest on the part of Kochhar and accordingly the matter was treated as closed,” the bank said.
“Subsequent to additional whistle-blower allegations and further information made available to the bank, the board of Directors determined the need for a fresh inquiry, which was announced on May 30, 2018. Further, the bank informed the law firm about the said developments, whereupon the law firm expressed that its earlier report would no longer be valid,” the bank said.
Cyril Shroff, Managing Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, declined to comment on the withdrawal of the report on Chanda Kochhar. “We do not comment on client matters,” Shroff told The Indian Express.
According to ICICI Bank, the then Chairman of the Board of Directors of ICICI Bank engaged a reputed law firm for conducting an inquiry into the allegations made in media reports. All parties concerned (including the Bank) cooperated with the inquiry and furnished necessary records, documents and statements.
Justice B N Srikrishna, former judge of the Supreme Court of India, is probing the anonymous whistleblower complaint alleging non-adherence of code of conduct, conflict of interest and quid pro quo by Chanda Kochhar while dealing “with certain borrowers” of the bank. The enquiry process, on since June, is currently underway and a final report is likely to be submitted soon.
On October 4, Chanda Kochhar quit as the Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank, six months after reports about allegations of quid pro quo and non-adherence of code of conduct and conflict of interest came out in the open. Kochhar was on leave since June 18 this year pending the independent investigation by Justice Srikrishna.