Former ICICI boss Chanda Kochhar booked in Videocon loan case

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Former ICICI boss Chanda Kochhar booked in Videocon loan case

A shareholder had alleged that Deepak Kochhar's wife Chanda Kochhar got ICICI Bank to grant a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to Venugopal Dhoot's Videocon Group. Chanda Kochhar was the MD and CEO of the ICICI Bank when this loan was granted.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today (Janaury 24) registered a first information report (FIR) against former ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar, in connection with the ICICI-Videocon loan case, an alleged case of quid-pro-quo.

The Venugopal Dhoot-led Videocon Group and NuPower Renewables, which was founded by Deepak Kochhar, were also mentioned in the FIR. The CBI also carried out raids at several locations including the Mumbai offices of Videocon and NuPower.

A shareholder had alleged that Deepak Kochhar's wife, Chanda Kochhar, got ICICI Bank to grant a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to Venugopal Dhoot's Videocon Group. Chanda Kochhar was the boss of ICICI Bank when this loan was granted.

The shareholder alleged that in return for the loan, Venugopal Dhoot invested Rs 64 crore in Chanda Kochhar's husband's NuPower Renewables.

In October last year, Chanda Kochhar stepped down as the chief executive officer and managing director of the ICICI Bank due to the allegations against her.

The CBI was already probing the ICICI-Videocon loan case. Last year, the agency had registered a PE, or preliminary enquiry, in the case. That PE has now been turned into an FIR, which means that a full-blown criminal investigation is underway.

Apart from the named accused, M/s. Nupower Renewables Ltd. (NRL), M/s. Supreme Energy Pvt. Ltd. (SEPL), M/s. Videocon International Electronics Ltd. (VIEL), M/s. Videocon Industries Ltd. (VIL), and others have been under Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) of Indian Penal Code read with Section 7, Section 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of PC Act, 1988.

Sources have told India Today TV all the accused will be summoned soon by the agency to record their statement.

Today's developments raise a big question mark on the corporate governance standards of the then ICICI board led by chairman MK Sharma which cleared Chanda Kochhar twice of any wrong-doing before the case blew up in public.

Whistleblower Arvind Gupta's eight-page letter (dated March 15, 2016) brought those allegations to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister, RBI governor, Sebi chairman, Enforcement Directorate and CBI chief, besides others.

That caused a severe social media frenzy which forced ICICI Bank to issue a statement defending Kochhar, "The Board has full confidence and reposes full faith in the Bank's MD and CEO Ms Chanda Kochhar."

Gupta told www.businesstoday.in that his curiosity was aroused by a 10 per cent coincidence that he noticed in ICICI's loans to Videocon group companies and foreign fund inflows into husband Deepak Kochhar's firm NuPower Renewables.

Gupta says NuPower Renewables was originally founded as a 50-50 JV between Dhoot family and Kochhar and Advani families (Chanda Kochhar's brother, Mahesh Advani).

ICICI loaned Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon group companies. Exactly 10 per cent of that amount (Rs 325 crore) was invested in NuPower in the form of compulsorily convertible preference shares by Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings. That investment was later transferred to DH Renewables Holding Limited, also from Mauritius.

(With inputs from Munish Chandra Pandey)