The Central Bureau of Investigation has issued look out circulars (LOCs) against former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and MD of the Videocon Group Venugopal Dhoot, CBI sources said on Friday. The circulars were issued right after registration of an FIR against the three last month. None of them, sources said, have been called for questioning by the agency as yet.
An LOC ensures that Immigration detains and informs the agencies concerned if a person under investigation attempts to leave the country.
In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that Chanda Kochhar had “dishonestly” granted loans to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees to the Videocon Group “in contravention of rules and policy … by abusing her official position”.
It has also alleged that Chanda Kochhar, who took an early retirement in October last year in the wake of allegations, had accepted “illegal gratification through her husband” Deepak Kochhar, in whose company Videocon group made investments after it was granted loans by the ICICI Bank.
Apart from the Kochhars and Dhoot, the FIR has named Deepak Kochhar’s company Nupower Renewables Ltd, Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd, Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Ltd (VIL), as well as unknown public servants as accused. The agency has also put under scanner top bankers such as current ICICI CEO Sandeep Bakshi, K Ramkumar, Sanjoy Chatterjee, NS Kannan, Zarin Daruwala, Rajiv Sabharwal, KV Kamath and Homi Khusrokhan in the case for their role in sanction of loans to Videocon.
On March 31, 2018, The Indian Express had first reported how in December 2008, Venugopal Dhoot of the Videocon Group set up a company with Deepak Kochhar and two of Chanda Kochhar’s relatives, and then gave a Rs 64 crore loan to this company through a fully-owned entity before he transferred the latter’s ownership to a trust headed by Deepak Kochhar for just Rs 9 lakh.
In what raised questions of propriety and conflict of interest, the transfer of the company to Deepak Kochhar happened six months after the Videocon Group got a loan of Rs 3,250 crore from ICICI Bank. Almost 86 per cent of that loan (Rs 2,810 crore) remains unpaid and Videocon account was declared an NPA in 2017.
The CBI had begun investigations into the matter in December 2017 after it initiated a preliminary enquiry. The enquiry probes allegations that ICICI Bank sanctioned credit facilities of about Rs 3,250 crore to Trend Electronics Ltd, Century Appliances Ltd, Kail Ltd, Value Industries Ltd and Evan Fraser and Co India Ltd, all companies belonging to the Videocon group, the FIR says.