The Income-Tax Department has questioned Deepak Kochhar, husband of MD and CEO of ICICI Bank, Chanda Kochhar, in connection with its ongoing investigation into investments by two Mauritius-based entities in Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables Private Ltd a few weeks before ICICI Bank gave a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to the Videocon Group in 2012, sources have told The Sunday Express.
Kochhar was questioned for a few hours on May 4, the sources said. This was the first time he was questioned by any investigating agency on the transactions carried out by his companies. The questioning was likely to continue next week, the sources said.
Kochhar and his firms have come under the scanner of the CBI and the Registrar of Companies, with the federal anti-corruption agency registering a preliminary enquiry into the alleged nexus between Kochhar and Videocon Group chairman Venugopal Dhoot.
The questioning follows the summons issued by the I-T Department in the last week of April under Section 131 of the Income-Tax Act, asking Kochhar to appear in person before the agency within 10 days along with documents on his personal finances and business transactions with NuPower Renewables.
Under Section 131, the tax authority has the power to enforce attendance of a person for inquiry in a particular matter. The tax department is looking into alleged consultancy services rendered by Deepak Kochhar in lieu of payments received from three business groups, a source said.
Sources said the agency is also investigating the source of funding for Kochhar’s immovable properties in the country. “The Income-Tax Department is examining the transactions of Supreme Energy under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, “ the source said.
The I-T Department has also sent requests under the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to a few foreign jurisdictions, including Mauritius, Singapore and Port Louis, for obtaining information on firms associated with Kochhar.
Emails, phone calls and a text message to Deepak Kochhar went unanswered.
The Indian Express had first reported on records that showed Dhoot provided crores of rupees to a firm promoted by Deepak Kochhar and two relatives six months after the Videocon Group received Rs 3,250 crore as loan from ICICI Bank in 2012. This amount was part of a Rs 40,000-crore loan that the Videocon Group secured from a consortium of 20 banks led by SBI.