Former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has been asked to appear before the ED on 10 June as the agency has decided to expand its probe into the money laundering case involving the bank and the Videocon group by questioning some more officials of the private lender, officials said on Saturday, 8 June.
They said Chanda Kochhar has been asked to appear before the agency on 10 June in New Delhi, after she sought an adjournment of the date scheduled for the previous Thursday, 6 June.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had questioned and recorded the statements given by Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar over multiple sessions last month.
Official sources had told PTI early this week that the federal probe agency was mulling over calling some more bank officials and confronting them with the statements given by Chanda Kochhar to obtain a clear picture of the deal.
The agency is also preparing to analyse details of the Kochhars’ assets and also that of others so that they can be provisionally attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Chanda Kochhar’s brother-in-law and Deepak’s brother, Rajiv Kochhar, has also been grilled by the ED multiple times for the case.
Rajiv Kochhar is the founder of Singapore-based Avista Advisory and was questioned by the CBI about his company's role in the restructuring of the loan.
He was asked by CBI sleuths about the help he had extended to Videocon in relation to the loan from ICICI Bank, which was part of a Rs 400-billion credit given by a consortium of 20 banks to the group of Venugopal Dhoot.
Previously, the Kochhars were questioned at the ED zonal office in Mumbai, after the central agency had conducted raids on 1 March.
The searches were conducted at the premises of Chanda Kochhar, her family, and Venugopal Dhoot of the Videocon Group in Mumbai and Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
The ED had registered a criminal case under the PMLA earlier this year against Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and others to probe the alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in loans worth Rs 1,875-crore being sanctioned by the ICICI Bank to the corporate group.
This action of the agency was based on an FIR registered by the CBI.
The CBI has named all the three and Dhoot's companies – Videocon International Electronics Ltd (VIEL) and Videocon Industries Limited (VIL) – in its case.
The anti-corruption probe agency also named Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and NuPower Renewables, a company controlled by Deepak Kochhar, in the FIR.
The CBI alleged that Dhoot had invested in Nupower through his firm Supreme Energy in a quid pro quo to loans cleared by ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the CEO of the bank on 1 May 2009.
The ownership of Nupower and Supreme Energy changed hands through a complex web of shared transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot, the CBI alleged.
During its preliminary enquiry, the CBI found that six loans worth Rs 1,875 crore were sanctioned to the Videocon Group and associated companies with it between June, 2009-October, 2011 in alleged violation of laid-down policies of the ICICI Bank, which have now become part of the probe.
The loans were declared non-performing assets in 2012, causing a loss of Rs 1,730 crore to the bank, it alleged.
The ED, sources said, is also probing at least two other instances of loans given by the ICICI Bank (during Chanda Kochhar's tenure) to Gujarat-based pharmaceutical firm Sterling Biotech and to Bhushan Steel group, both of which are under its probe for alleged money laundering charges.
(This piece has been edited for clarity.)
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