ICICI Bank-Videocon Case: Chanda Kochhar Skips Appearing Before Enforcement Directorate
Former ICICI Bank Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar on Monday skipped her scheduled appearance before the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case probe, citing bad health, officials said.
The probe involves the bank and the Videocon Group.
Chanda Kochhar will now be asked to depose later this week. She had not appeared before the agency last week as well, citing health reasons.
Official sources had told PTI earlier this week that the central probe agency is now mulling to call some more bank officials to confront them with the statements made by Chanda Kochhar and obtain further leads.
The ED had last month questioned and recorded the statements of Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar over multiple sessions. The agency is also preparing to analyse the details of assets of the Kochhars and others so that they can be provisionally attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Chanda Kochhar's brother-in-law and Deepak's brother, Rajiv Kochhar, has also been questioned by the ED multiple times in the case.
The ED registered a criminal case under the money laundering Act earlier this year against Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar, Dhoot and others to probe alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning Rs 1,875-crore of loans by ICICI Bank to the corporate group.
This action of the agency was based on a First Information Report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI has named all the three and Dhoot's companies -- Videocon International Electronics Ltd. and Videocon Industries Ltd. -- 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 May 1, 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 companies associated with it between June 2009 and Oct. 2011 in alleged violation of laid-down policies of 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, the 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.