The Income Tax Department has issued a notice to Deepak Kochhar, husband of ICICI bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, in connection with its tax evasion probe in the Videocon bank loan case, officials said. They said the notice has been issued to Deepak Kochhar under section 131 (power regarding discovery, production of evidence) of the I-T Act and he has been asked to furnish details of his personal finances, Income Tax Returns (ITRs) for the last few years and business transactions with the firm NuPower Renewables.
The department, the officials said, has launched a probe into the finances of the company and those associated with it. Few more notices have been sent to the people associated with the firm and based on their replies, further action will be taken, they said.
In a related development, the CBI officials said that Deepak Kochhar, who has been named in a prelimnary enquiry, will be called for questioning soon. The CBI had questioned a few ICICI bank officials as part of a preliminary enquiry to find if any quid pro quo was involved in the bank issuing a Rs 3,250 crore loan to the Videocon Group in 2012.
The deal recently made news after reports questioned the loan and linked it to a possible quid pro quo that Videocon group promoter Venugopal Dhoot allegedly had with NuPower Renewables, a company founded by Deepak Kochchar.
The CBI enquiry had named Dhoot, Deepak Kochhar and unidentified others, officials said. A prelimnary enquiry (PE) is a precursor before the agency lodges an FIR to probe criminal charges on the basis of evidence collected during the former exercise.
Last week, the ICICI Bank board came out in support of Chanda Kochhar, saying it has full faith and confidence in her and described reports against her over the credit disbursement to Videocon group as “malicious and unfounded rumours”. The board had also reviewed the banks internal processes for credit approval and found them robust, the private sector lender had said in a statement.
With regard to loans to the Videocon group, the board had said the banks current exposure is part of a syndicated consortium arrangement. “ICICI Bank was not the lead bank for this consortium and the bank only sanctioned its share of facilities aggregating approximately Rs 3,250 crore which was less than 10 per cent of the total consortium facility in April 2012,” it added. The bank had clarified that none of the investors of NuPower Renewables are borrowers of ICICI Bank.