ICICI Bank has appointed Sandeep Bakhshi as fulltime director and Chief Operating Officer (COO), a statement by the private sector lender said on Monday. The statement added that Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chanda Kochhar, who faces a complaint of alleged non-adherence of code of conduct, will be on leave till the completion of the internal enquiry against her.
Bakhshi, whose appointment is for a period of five years beginning June 19, pending regulatory approvals, will report to Kochhar, the bank said in the statement. “He will be responsible for handling all the businesses and corporate centre functions at the Bank,” the statement reads. All executive directors of the bank and the executive management would report to him. The new COO, in return, would report to the bank’s board during Kochhar’s period of leave.
On the other hand, the bank’s Chief Financial Officer N S Kanna will replace Bakshi as ICICI Prudential Life MD and CEO.
A complaint by an anonymous whistleblower has accused Kochhar of conflict of interest and quid pro quo while dealing with “certain borrowers” of the bank.
The whistleblower’s complaint is the third against the ICICI Bank CEO. Arvind Gupta, an investor, had previously lodged two complaints — on an alleged conflict of interest and code-of-conduct violation by Kochhar while sanctioning loans to the Videocon group in 2016 and on dealings with the Essar group in 2018.
On May 30, the bank stated in a regulatory filing that its board has decided to institute an “enquiry” into a new complaint received from an anonymous whistleblower, alleging non-adherence of code of conduct, conflict of interest and quid pro quo by Kochhar while dealing “with certain borrowers” of the bank.
It indicated that the “independent enquiry” would “also cover all connected matters in the course of the investigation to bring the matter to a final close”. “In other words, the bank is indicating that the enquiry panel is likely to look into all the complaints against the bank’s CEO,” banking sources said.