Videocon loan: CBI probes ICICI Bank-Deepak Kochhar nexus
31 March 2018
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a preliminary enquiry into alleged irregularities in the grant of loan to Videocon industries by ICICI Bank in a transaction involving Deepak Kochhar, the husband of ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, and the Videocon Group led by Venugopal Dhoot.
Videocon had availed a Rs3,250-crore loan from the bank, of which Rs2,810 crore remained unpaid and was declared NPA in 2017. ICICI Bank was part of a consortium of 20 banks that granted loan to the Venugopal Dhoot-led Group to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore.
Dhoot allegedly gave Rs64 crore in 2010 through a fully owned entity to NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd he had set up with Deepak Kochhar and two of his relatives. It is alleged that he transferred proprietorship of the company to a trust owned by Deepak Kochhar for Rs9 lakh, six months after he received the loan from ICICI Bank.
Reports quoting CBI sources said the CBI has named ICICI CEO Chanda Kochar’s husband Deepak Kochar, the Videocon Group and some unknown officials. “However, the role of Chanda Kochar will also be examined if the enquiry leads to a nexus between the ICICI Bank’s grant of loan to Videocon Group and quid pro quo deals with her husband,” a CBI official said, adding that an FIR will be registered depending on the evidence gathered during the enquiry.
The CBI said initiated the inquiry on the basis of source information and CBI’s own intelligence.
The agency will enquire into the series of alleged transactions between Deepak Kochar and Videocon Group and any relation thereof with grant of loans to the Group by ICICI, sources said.
The CBI probe does not name Chanda Kochhar even though questions have been raised on the financial dealings. ICICI Bank board says it has full faith in MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar even as it dismissed reports on credit disbursement.
ICICI Bank chairman M K Sharma also defended Chanda Kochhar saying that she was not the chairman or part of the credit committee that granted loans to Videocon and hence there was no conflict of interest
Meanwhile, markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is looking into the matter for any possible disclosure and corporate governance-related lapses.
A whistleblower on Friday cited "evidence" to allege that ICICI Bank MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar and her family were "a huge beneficiary" of a loan sanctioned to Videocon Group by the bank, according to an ANI report.
"Evidence shows strong links that Chanda Kochhar and her family are a huge beneficiary of this loan. Government should order investigation and audit to check why loan was given to a sinking company," alleged Indian Investors Protection Council trustee Arvind Gupta.
"Venugopal Dhoot transferred money from Videocon Group to Supreme Energy, in which he had 90 per cent shares. He promoted it and later transferred it to Deepak Kochhar. Deepak Kochhar then transferred his shareholdings to Pinnacle Energy. Pinnacle Energy was a trust formed by Kochhar family. Now they are saying they sold their NuPower Renewables shares much before. NuPower Renewables was a special purpose vehicle made to revert allegations in the future. ICICI never gave it loan, but the company was benefited," Gupta said.