A roadside vendor arranges fruits at a stall as pedestrians walk past a ICICI Bank Ltd. branch in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Arun Jaitley Questions If CBI’s ICICI Bank-Videocon Loan Probe Is ‘Investigative Adventurism’

Union Minister Arun Jaitley questioned the need to probe “who’s who of the banking industry” in the ICICI Bank Ltd.’s loans to the Videocon Group.

There is a fundamental difference between investigative adventurism and professional investigation, Jaitley, who is in the U.S. for treatment, wrote in a blog post. “Professional investigation targets the real accused on the basis of actual and admissible evidences.”

Sitting thousands of kilometers away, when I read the list of potential targets in the ICICI case, the thought that crossed my mind was again the same – Instead of focusing primarily on the target, is a journey to nowhere (or everywhere) being undertaken? If we include the entire who’s who of the Banking Industry – with or without evidence – what cause are we serving or actually hurting.
Arun Jaitley In Blog Post

His reaction came after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a first information report against former ICICI Bank Chief Executive Officer Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group’s Venugopal Dhoot. The agency said that it may also probe the role of current and former senior executives who were part of the bank’s credit committee that approved Rs 1,575 crore in loans to companies related to the Videocon Group. These include ICICI Bank’s former Chairman KV Kamath and current CEO Sandeep Bakshi.

The other members on the ICICI Bank credit committees whose role the CBI said may be investigated, include:

  • NS Kannan, current CEO of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance
  • Rajiv Sabharwal, current CEO of Tata Capital
  • Zarin Daruwala, current CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in India
  • Sonjoy Bhattacharya, chairman of Goldman Sachs (India) Securities
  • K Ramkumar, former executive director of ICICI Bank
  • Homi Khusrokhan

Jaitley hinted that such adventurism leads to media leaks, ruins reputations, and not convictions. “One of the reasons why our conviction rates are poor is that adventurism and megalomania overtakes our investigators and professionalism takes a back seat.”

Also read: FIR Against Chanda Kochhar: What The CBI Alleges