ICICI-Videocon Case: CBI Issues Look Out Notice Against Chanda Kochhar, In Case She Tries To Leave The Country
The Logical Indian Crew India
February 22nd, 2019 / 7:01 PM
Image Credit: New Indian Express
In a new development to the ongoing investigation in the ICICI-Videocon loan case, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued a Lookout circular (LOC) against former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar (husband of Chanda Kochhar), and Videocon group MD Venugopal Dhoot on February 22, reported Hindustan Times.
On January 24, the probing agency filed an FIR against these three in clearance of Rs 1,875 crore loans to Videocon. The agency issued the LOC as a part of routine proceedings soon after the FIR was filed. According to a report by Economic Times, a CBI official said that lookout circulars were already issued in all the airports for Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot after the agency’s preliminary inquiry last year and has been revived now. However, this is the first time that a LOC has been issued against Chanda Kochhar.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), an investigating agency for illegal foreign exchange transaction is looking to investigate assets that the couple built and possessed. One of the ED officials requesting anonymity said that the Kochhar had floated multiple companies to route the money. These companies also had close transactions with various Videocon Group companies. Authorities use lookout circulars to restrict the movement of people who are under investigation. This is generally used at immigration checks at international borders like airports. Over the past years, economic offenders such as Mehul Choksi, Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi have fled out of the country.
ICICI Accepts Chanda Violated Company’s Code Of Conduct
The ICICI bank on January 30, 2019, finally accepted that the bank’s ex-CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar has violated the company’s code of conduct. The bank, ten months ago had given Chanda Kochhar a clean chit on allegations of nepotism, conflict of interest, favouritism, or quid pro duo, however, scrapped it off after an independent investigation conducted by retired Supreme Court judge Justice BN Srikrishna found Kochhar guilty, reported the Economic Times.
The bank on the basis of the investigation sacked Kochhar and also decided to retrieve all bonuses that she enjoyed since 2009, after taking charge of the top post.
Why was Independent Probe Required?
A committee headed by Justice BN Srikrishna started probing the matter to find whether Chanda Kochhar violated the code of conduct by not recusing herself in case of the Videocon loan. Soon after the Videocon loan issue surfaced after an investigative report done by The Indian Express, the ICICI bank made an internal inquiry and defended Kochhar. However, the matter did not die down and the bank agreed to conduct an independent probe where it found her to be guilty. After considering the report issued by Justice Srikrishna, the ICICI bank in a statement said that Board of Directors decided to treat the separation of Ms Chanda Kochhar from the bank as a ‘Termination for Cause’ under the Bank’s internal policies, schemes and the Code of Conduct. Soon after the bank’s conclusion, Chanda Kochhar expressed that she is hurt, disappointed and shocked by the fact that the bank believes that she had violated the code of conduct, reported NDTV. She further added that none of the credit decisions was her own as the bank opted for collective decision making. Emphasising on the bank’s structure, Kochhar said that conflict of interest is out of the question.
What Happened Earlier?
The CBI on January 24, 2019, booked ex ICICI MD and CEO Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, and Venugopal Dhoot in the ICICI-Videocon cheating case. CBI booked Chanda Kochhar on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and abuse of official position for “dishonestly sanctioning to the Videocon Group”, reported the Economic Times.
Kochhar, who resigned from the CEO posts of ICICI bank on October 2018, was accused in the CBI FIR of allegedly receiving “illegal gratification through her husband, Deepak Kochhar, from Videocon MD VN Dhoot for sanctioning a term loan of Rs 300 crore to Videocon International Electronics Ltd”.
Apart from registering the First Information Report (FIR) in the ICICI-Videocon loan fraud case, the investigative agency also raided several locations. Of these Mumbai offices of Videocon, Deepak Kochhar’s NuPower Renewables, and Supreme Energy Pvt Ltd were on the top list.
The investigative agency has also mentioned several unknown public servants in the FIR. CBI further mentioned that senior banks officials such as former chairman KV Kamath (current president of New Development Bank), Sandeep Bakshi (current ICICI Bank MD), Sonjoy Chatterjee (CEO, Goldman Sachs India), Zarin Daruwala (CEO, Standard Chartered India), Rajiv Sabharwal (CEO, Tata Capital), Homi Khusrokhan, and K Ramkumar might also be probed related to the case, as they were in the sanctioning committee that cleared loans amounting to Rs 1,575 crore.
An investigative report by The Indian Express claimed that Rs 2,810 crore out of the Rs 3,250 crore loan has not yet been paid and the account of Videocon was declared non-performing asset (NPA) in 2017. The ten-month-old report by The Indian Express says that Videocon chairman Dhoot started a joint company, NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd (NRPL), with Deepak Kochhar and two of the latter’s relatives in December 2008. Dhoot had a 50% share in NRPL whereas the other 50% of shares were owned by Kochhar, and Pacific Capital, a company owned by his father and Chanda Kochhar’s brother’s wife.
After just a month, in January 2009, Dhoot resigned from the position of director of NRPL. He also went on to transfer his 24,999 shares in the company to Kochhar for Rs 2.5 lakh.
Additionally, Supreme Energy Private Limited, a company in which Dhoot reportedly has 99.9% stake, lent a loan of Rs 64 crore to NRPL, in March 2010 and by the end of the month, Supreme Energy went on to become 94.99 % shareholder in NRPL. This step was preceded by a series of transfer of shares first between Dhoot and Kochhar and later between Pacific Capital and Supreme Energy.
In November 2010, as per reports, Dhoot went on to transfer his entire shares in Supreme Energy to Mahesh Chandra Punglia, his associate.
Punglia transferred his holding in Supreme Energy to Pinnacle Energy, where Deepak Kochhar was the managing trustee. The total value of the transfer of shares amounted to Rs 9 lakh.
Supreme Energy then gave a loan of Rs 64 crore to NPRL and then got absorbed into Pinnacle Energy within three years.
As of March 2017, Registrar of Companies records says that Deepak Kochhar held an about 43.4% in NPRL both as direct holding and through Supreme Energy and Pinnacle
Earlier ICICI and Dhoot denied claims
When the report of Chanda Kochhar benefitting her husband came out, The Indian Express reached out to ICICI bank, it did not answer the questions on transaction, however, about the issue of loan to Videocon, they said, “In 2012, a consortium of over 20 banks and FIs where State Bank of India was the facility agent (Lead) sanctioned facilities to the Videocon group (Videocon Industries Ltd. and 12 of its subsidiaries/ associates as co-obligors) for a debt consolidation programme and for the group’s oil and gas capital expenditure programme aggregating approximately Rs. 40,000 crore…ICICI Bank sanctioned its share of facilities aggregating approximately Rs 3250 crore which was less than 10% of the total consortium facility in April 2012. The current outstanding against this loan is Rs 2810 crore and total current exposure to Videocon group is Rs 2849 crore…The Videocon group account has been classified as an NPA during 2017.”
Venugopal Dhoot also denied the allegations of conflict of interest. He said, “On January 15, 2009, I resigned as a director of NuPower Renewables and Supreme Energy Private Ltd and sold at par the 24,996 shares of NuPower and 9,990 shares of Supreme Energy held by me, thereby relinquishing my right, title and interests in the said shares, giving up control and management of Supreme Energy and completely disassociating myself from both the Companies all on the same day, as I got too busy with my other larger business like oil & gas, telecommunication, etc.”
The NPRL denied connections with ICICI Bank’s loan lent to companies owned by Dhoot. The whole issue is reportedly being investigated now.
Founder of Videocon Venugopal Dhoot set up a company with husband (Deepak Kochhar) of ICICI bank chairman Chanda Kochhar. ICICI gave a loan of Rs 3,250 crore to Videocon Group, 86% of which is declared NPA by the company.
The Logical Indian ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 29, 2018
Written by : Debarghya Sil
Edited by : Bharat Nayak